The Mori Art museum in Tokyo is currently holding a major retrospective survey of the 20-year career of Japanese artist Makoto Aida. His visceral works shocked the art world into submission when he first appeared in New York in 2000 in conjunction with the International Studio Program. Hi-Fructose recently conducted an exclusive interview with the notorious painter. His work is immediately recognizable for its provocative mixture of classic Japanese imagery with graphic themes. Aida uses a manga-influenced style but additionally incorporates elements of traditional Japanese painting and brushwork. In his unique strain of social critique, Aida remorselessly combines typical cliches like school girls, businessmen with extremely disturbing elements, usually sexual or violent in nature. In the interview he describes his relationship to Japanese society as somewhat strained:

In Japanese society, the “bubble economy” was at its peak, where regular people would be spending more and more money, manically. Everything about everything then, well, at least in Japan at that time, was all about money, and contemporary art or art in general was no exception. I was never a kind of painter or student of art that even attempted to be on the commercial art circuit, either. Now that I think about it, that’s one thing about me as an artist that never changed and will probably never change.

Aida certainly deserves the bad-boy image he’s gained over the years, but hardly because he’s a slacker. His works are larger-than-life, and it often take years to complete the exceptionally fine detail essential to the imagery. Not surprisingly, Aida’s work has gained popularity with the indie set, gracing the cover of Brooklyn electronic artist Laurel Halo’s debut album “Quarantine”. His work will be on view at the Mori Art Museum through March 31st, 2013.

(Photos: Hi-Fructose)