Manga: The Virtues and Difficulties of Minimalism Jul28

Manga: The Virtues and Difficulties of Minimalism...

Sitting in my college illustration class one evening I remember vividly the teacher’s comments when he found a pair of students dabbling in manga-style characters.  How he saw “man-ga” everywhere and he was sick of it; that it wasn’t real art. Yet Western comic book art was perfectly acceptable and we even had a class that was centered around how to caricature. As someone who has an appreciation for Eastern art forms I was taken aback. Amateurs might flood the market with manga of varying quality but we see people flood the market with varying attempts at modern art imitations of someone like Warhol or Jackson Pollack just as much. So firstly, in defense of manga, we should probably understand why people might like it so much. Manga as a form of art came out of a long tradition in Japan. For many centuries Japan had been highly influenced by the art of China, which traditionally had a focus on details and perfection. In the 1600s there was a movement away from the Chinese form which started to discard the details of the Chinese influenced schools and sought a more evocative form of expression of washes and minimalism that was inspired by Buddhism. By the 1700s minimalism had begun to flourish in Japan’s art schools. This new school of art was called nanga (nope, that’s no typo). For those of you curious to know more I would recommend the book Japanese Art by Joan Stanley-Baker, part of Thames & Hudson’s World of Art series. Artists used this style to portray the first real caricatures of humans and also made animalistic representations of humans. This history was influential to the modern artist Stan Sakai’s making the iconic comic book figure of Usagi Yojimbo, for example....