Bejeweled gourds and intricately decorated dolls from Mayu Kikuchi make for yet another but superbly whimsical statement in Japanese neoteny art.
I asked her why so much of Japanese art looks this way, and she says that’s so established these days, that’s what sells and what art teachers steer you toward.
“Before, I used to do more grotesque pieces, like a knife stabbing the head,” she motions with her hand toward her forehead, smiling, “and then things are spurting out.”
She and her mother were selling her lovingly handmade works at an annual summer craft fair in Shiodome, Tokyo.
She has huge dolls, characters from strange tales in her mind, modern-day versions of Bunraku puppets.
Those weren’t for sale because they had taken so long to make, said Kikuchi, 25.
Other works weren’t quite so priceless.
And so one of her cloth fish and “kokeshi” madames now hang in our living room, swimming with joy and doubt about where they stand in the world of universal art.