Since its debut in 1996, Pokémon has become a fixture of pop culture. Even if you don't watch anime, play video games, or collect cards, you have likely come across the recognizable creatures that have made the franchise so beloved. An exhibition at JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles reimagines some of the animated characters by merging them with contemporary and traditional craft techniques. Titled POKÉMON X KOGEI | Playful Encounters of Pokémon and Japanese Craft, this show features over 70 sculptures and installations by 20 renowned Japanese artists.
From models of Eevee and its evolutions to curtains of tiny Pikachus, this exhibition showcases the creativity and masterful abilities of its artists. They were challenged to bring Pokémon to life using age-old mediums like lacquer, ceramics, textiles, and metalwork. Among the artists featured are metal artists Morihito Katsura and Taiichiro Yoshida. “This unique collaboration answer[s] the question, ‘What happens when Pokémon meets kogei?’ for art enthusiasts and gamers alike,” says Yuko Kaifu, president of JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles. “We’re excited to present this unique collaboration with exceptional artists and artworks showcasing the rich world of Japanese craft through the global phenomenon of Pokémon appreciated by all ages around the world.”
The synthesis of Japanese craft and Pokémon holds extra significance as the primary Pokémon types of Grass, Fire, Water, Ground, Steel, and Electric overlap with the materials and techniques of Japanese art making—which uses grass, fire, water, earth, metal, and electricity. An official statement explains: “In Japanese ceramics, for example, clay is mined from the earth, mixed with water, and then formed often with the help of an electric potter’s wheel, decorated with mineral and metal oxide pigments, and baked with fire in a kiln.” They also point out that just as the goal in Pokémon games is to nurture and train their creatures, artists have a similar journey in learning and refining their creative skills.