If you peruse the exhibits of this year's Scope Art Basel, you'll notice the unmistakable influence of Andy Warhol throughout the displays.
From sequined cereal boxes to giant soup cans and even hashtag-swag art you can wear, Warhol's posthumous reach is endless. But nowhere is Warhol's presence felt more deeply than in the piercing, glittery eyes of Kazuhiro Tjusi's seven-foot, ultra-realistic sculptural portrait.
You can find Tsuji's Warhol in the back of the building, presiding over the show like an apathetic lord, freaking out the passersby and always happy to pose for pictures.
Tsuji hails from Kyoto, Japan. You've surely enjoyed his special effects and make-up work in such films as The Ring, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Tron: Legacy, among others. But you can leave the accolades and industry success at home. Tsuji is tired of that.
"I really wanted to get out of the film industry, because I got sick of it," said Tsuji, who, less than a year ago, had his first piece displayed at the Copro Gallery in Santa Monica, Ca., and is enjoying his first trip to Scope Miami. "I'm making a good start."
A good start indeed, as Scope's carefully-curated collection pits Tsuji's larger-than-life headshot amid some of the finest works in the world. Even more impressive is the impression the work leaves on viewers. It's already one of the most talked about pieces in the room.
The key to the sculpture's creepy, lifelike energy is in the materials (and Tsuji's insane talents, of course). The face and hands are made of flexible, platinum-cure silicon rubber. The eyes, which seem to bore right into the viewer, are made of porous resin, "the same resin used to make softballs." The hair is a mixture of human and yak, and the base is simply chrome-plated fiberglass.
Tsuji said it took about four or five months to complete, but it takes only a moment to haunt your dreams. In a world plagued by Warholian neon, repetition and everyone's 15-seconds of fame, we have to say, we love the seemingly simple, non-pop representation.
"At that time, I was thinking about this country and the enlightenment, just randomly looking at stuff, and his documentary came up," Tsuji said. "I was looking up his life, and what happened to him and what he went through. I thought 'okay, this is a perfect example of what this country is about,' like, a superficial enlightenment, and also what he has done and how he affected this whole culture. I thought it was a great icon to create a portrait."
Warhol isn't Tsuji's first "portrait." He's brought Abraham Lincoln back to life and paid homage to another special effect make-up guru, Dick Smith. All of his portraits are about two-times their life-size counterparts.
"I think it's not too big, not too small, it has a good presence," he said. "If it was bigger than this it would just be like 'oh, it's so big.' It has a good distance to keep, and some people feel like you're going back to a baby because of how you feel to the portrait. I like this size."
The constant reactions from viewers are the best. We had to pose for our own picture with the artist and his creator before we left. It's this cycle of reaction and interaction that inspires Tsuji to keep going.
"People are just amazed about the detail," Tsuji said. "I want to keep creating portraits of people, and someday, I want to do a show with a bunch of them."
Check out more of Tsuji's work at Kazustudios.com.
Scope Miami Beach 2013. 1000 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach. Wednesday. Dec. 5, through Sunday, Dec. 8. Tickets are $15 to $25. Visit scope-art.com.
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