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All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2021.

Ozu Tofu - the works

How's this vacuum cleaner?
Sorry I'm late.
Wind the clock. It's about to stop.
Would you happen to have a couple of extra tomatoes?
You mustn't become and old maid.
The green hue of the pines.

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2021.

Ozu Tofu

“I only know how to make tofu. . . ."
Ozu Tofu presents six servings of vanilla; as alternate cuts of cinematic environments - freeze frames, drawn from a moving object. More specifically, they each rework a single frame extracted from An Autumn Afternoon (Sanma no aji, 1962), the masterful epilogue created by one of the world’s most influential cinematic directors - Yasujirō Ozu (12 December 1903 – 12 December 1963).

Venerated for his seemingly economic approach to storytelling, both in terms of visual composition and narrative, exploration of Ozu’s oeuvre reveals a much more complex, and profoundly nuanced presentation of life, captured in a rapidly changing Japan. This somewhat philosophical mise-en-scène he modestly hid within the suggestion that his movies were simply tofu; either fried, boiled or stuffed. Ozu argued that he was fashioning movies which were unfancy, and ostensibly everyday. To that end, this humanistic approach categorises his pictures as shōshimin-eiga - realist depictions of mainstream normality. Latterly, he also touched on social commentary, overlapping traditional themes with contemporary drama - a style known as Gendai-geki.

The sextet of compositions comprising Ozu Tofu extract some of the emblematic and distinctive punctuation points for which the director was known. His ‘pillow shots’ would counter traditional advancement of film narrative - cutting between active scenes with a more or less still image - sustained over a sufficient count of time to facilitate contemplation; both of a relative and more existential nature. These intermediate pause points were deliberately fashioned by Ozu, as a means to enter meditative silence, forcing the viewer into introspective deliberation. In addition, the poetic meaning, and obsessive attention to detail layered within his film work, suggested a strong association with the Japanese concept of mono no aware, which roughly translates as the ‘pathos of things’ - this the beauty of impermanence; celebrating the transient splendour of the ephemeral.

As a set of minimalistic works; apropos the Director’s specific modus - simple, visual poetry, built from deeper philosophical ideals - Ozu Tofu exists in a flattened, paired-down tableau of three-dimensional space. They juxtapose the Japanese auteur’s own framing approach - of spatial and social divides, frames within frames (to some extent emotional metaphors of the ubiquitous Shoji screens) - with a deference to the later, geometric compositions of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, and the graphic depictions of urban architecture painted by American artist Ed Ruscha, where the banality of urban life becomes elevated into the art of the everyday. Furthermore, employment of complex grids featuring actors, and the evolving storyline, allude to the multi-paned cartoon infrastructure of Manga comics.

For Ozu, it was not only framing that he focussed on, but colour, and more specifically red. An Autumn Afternoon is one of the six colour films, that he shot, using German Agfacolor film stock. This he preferred over the more widely used Eastman Kodak, as it pushed reds into a prominent spectral depiction. Takashi Kawamata, the chief assistant cinematographer for Ozu’s later films, suggested the Director favoured the ‘half-asleep’ chroma of Agfacolor. With a variety of strategically-placed objects of bold, sanguine toning, Ozu’s colour obsession even found its way into the movie’s script, as states one of the artwork’s titles - Would you happen to have a couple of extra tomatoes?

Embracing a defined set of colour hues, Ozu Tofu pushes a largely muted palette, periodically punctured by bursts of deliberately-placed crimson. These six pauses in the life of the fictional Hirayama family are recalibrated using a contemporary brush, each overlayed with a spectral trace of Ozu’s hand-written script notation; an ethereal presence within each and every serving of tofu; where simplicity can evoke notions of complexity, and still can become moving. As a meditation on time and space, these works suggest a conscious interruption; an attempt to capture the beauty hidden within the everyday; where each work’s title is in itself a subtitle, extracted from its proximity to the point of suspension.

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2021.

Shop

Selected from specific exhibitions, the tabs below provide an opportunity to own James Straffon original artworks, limited edition prints or published books.

Each connects to a new page, featuring detailed images, and pricing.
For buying enquiries and orders send an email HERE.


Thirty-five tales. 
A special limited edition print in aid of Farm Sanctuary - commemorating their thirty-fifth year.

Flood. A sign. 
With global warming set to hit to 3C, flooding will redraw the map of the world.

Don't Be Koi 
A limited edition print depicting the unbalanced tao of global water through dumped plastic and toxins.

Let's Stay Together [The Mandarin] 
A limited edition print.

URBAN FAUNA 
A limited edition print series featuring endangered animals placed on London walls.

Studio 54 
A series of vintage skate decks featuring icons of the New York club scene.

Pride and The Peacock 
A limited edition print.

On Yeah? Wham!  
A series of anchor tattoo artworks as part of the Coastal Chic project.


Seraph Series  
Angelic artworks on canvas,
for the wall or altar.
HARK #1-15  
A special series of hand sprayed
prints produced as part of
the Angels of Southwold project.

sKATE  
An iconic photograph of an acclaimed British fashion model repurposed.

When The Fox met The Rooster 
A limited edition print series taken 
from the sellout exhibition at
the British Embassy Luxembourg.
MITOLOGIA ITALIANA  
An exploration of the Italian
Cultural landscape; a work of 
fiction for modern times.

100e  
A unique collection of limited edition
prints celebrating the 100th edition of
the Tour de France [2013].
LE TOUR Book 
Published by Rapha racing, as a
lavish accompaniment to the
LE TOUR exhibition.

FAB66 
A concise suite of mixed media  artworks featuring significant  cultural icons from 1966.

The Blank Canvas 
The artist is available to create bespoke artworks to fit the client's desired brief.
If you have an idea for a street art piece, or personal commission for a portrait etc, send an email.

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2021.

Flood. A sign.


Flood. A sign.

Spray paint on metal street sign
75 x 86cm.
During the course of the twenty-first century, global sea levels are predicted to rise by up to 2 metres, possibly more. As a result, land occupied by 300 million people will fall below the elevation of an average annual coastal flood. By 2100, 200 million people could sit permanently below the high tide line.

The UN is warning that our planet is on course for 3C of global warming. This will ultimately redraw the map of the world. A key variable in this outcome will be how much heat-trapping pollution from human activities is dumped into the atmosphere, and how quickly the land-based ice sheets in Greenland and especially Antarctica destabilise. Another factor is widespread, intensive farming, which changes land cover by removing preexisting vegetation, thereby increasing the risk of flooding.

It is now widely accepted that extreme weather patterns, caused by long-term global climate change, make floods more likely. The science is impossible to ignore.

As global temperatures rise, there is significantly more energy in the Earth’s system. This amplified state results in higher air temperatures, which increase the possibility for evaporation and ultimately cloud formation. In this perfect storm scenario, the air is also able to hold more moisture content, which leads to an increase in precipitation intensity, duration and/or frequency.

"If you have more moisture in the atmosphere, the same rainfall systems rain harder - that is something we see globally. And that has a human greenhouse gas signal in it."
Professor Gabi Hegerl, University of Edinburgh.





All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2021.

Portfolio

.
urban fauna prints Ozu Tofu - Six repainted film scenes, cut from Yasujiro Ozu's 1962 movie masterpiece An Autumn Afternoon.
urban fauna prints Readings from The Barometer of Life - A contemporary tapestry, raising awareness for endangered species, climate change and the sixth mass extinction.
urban fauna prints Time & Tide - A public art commission installed at Trinity Buoy Wharf, London.
An Objective Abstract - a special interior installation commissioned by Architecture and Design practice Coppin Dockray, invoking the work Kazimir Malevich.
urban fauna prints Let's Stay Together [The Mandarin] - a street art commission for Tottenham, London.
When The Fox met The Rooster. And Other Stories. - A special commission in partnership with The British Embassy, Luxembourg, celebrating the Tour de France.
HARK - An urban art campaign commission for an east coast clothing boutique.
Carbon, Sulphur and Paint - presented through one man's pursuit of the greatest race in the world - the Tour de France, these works celebrate the cinematic sporting vista, and its heros.
The Kirkgate Triptych - A bold composition incorporating a variety of historical visual reference points sourced from around Kirkgate Market, Leeds.
DECONSTRUCTED REGENERATION - a commission project with St Modwen, using abstract building blocks, cut from the negative spaces.
A Rhino in The Herb Garden - An ecology project in association with North Harringay Primary School, London.
urban fauna prints Don't Be Koi - The tao of an ecosystem - where the flow of yang (light) is countered by yin (dark), the harmony of the natural world is threatened - as it chokes on dumped plastic and industrial toxins.
urban fauna prints URBAN FAUNA - a limited edition print series of endangered animals, placed on London walls.
Pantera pardus. - A big cat, raising awareness for the plight of all endangered species across the planet.
urban fauna prints This little piggy... - an artwork in support of Farm Sanctuary.
urban fauna prints Flood. A sign. - With global warming set to hit to 3C, flooding will redraw the map of the world.
Pride and the Peacock. - The national bird of India introduces a bold splash of colour to an urban side street in Tottenham.
Coastal Chic - a special commission for a boutique store in Southwold, Suffolk.
sKATE - Appropriating Peter Lindbergh’s iconic Kate Moss photograph within an urban street art context.
54 - a skate deck portrait series commemorating New York's iconic Studio 54 nightclub.
Keith. - A portrait of a Rolling Stone.
COMMISSIONS - well-researched, contextually specific artistic solutions, for a broad array of clients. For enquiries click HERE
Covfefe - A diptych exploring the socio-political unrest of a corrupt POTUS.
Oh Yeah? Wham! - a set of unique spray paint artworks, as part of the Coastal Chic commission.
LET US SPRAY - A print series to accompany HARK - the Angels of Southwold project.
MITOLOGIA ITALIANA - An exploration of the Italian cultural landscape, from 1909 to 1960; a work of fiction.
FABER - A commission featuring the 1909 Tour de France victor Francois Faber.
People Have The Power - a portrait of singer-songwriter, poet, and visual artist Patti Smith fixed via an urban street culture context.
Through the Palace Gates. - A short film set in a north London urban allotment, on a summer’s evening.
Design and Illustration - Graphic design and illustration work samples, spanning both print and digital media, for a wide cross-section of clients.
Photography and film - engaging an artist's eye for both still and moving imagery; visual exploits in both analogue and digital formats.
Urban and Street Art - a variety of projects on walls, including specially commissioned installation pieces. 
36 VIEWS OF PENTIRE - A contemporary reappropriation of the iconic Under the Wave off Kanagawa, by Hokusai. 
Verses On A Butterfly - A modern diptych, based on the poem by Joseph Warton - Verses On A Butterfly (1806).
LE TOUR - a broad, and complete monogram; a major solo exhibition on the Tour de France, with an accompanying book published by Rapha.
LE TOUR Book - to accompany the Tour de France London exhibition, this hardback book was published by Rapha Racing, with a forward by British cyclist David Millar. Available to buy HERE.
100e - an allegorical monograph commemorating 100 editions of the Tour de France.Using Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost as a thematic schema, this series traces the evolution of universal ideas.
FAB66 - created as a fifty-year celebration of iconic cultural figures from 1966, includes the then fifty-year anniversary of VOGUE magazine.
English National Opera - three production campaigns for the UK's largest contemporary opera company.
Citius. Altius. Fortius - in celebration of the Summer Olympics held in London, 2012, these works revisit the great and good of past medal winners.
LUMO Series - an exploration of wearable technology through the medium of light painting.
Logitech UE BOOM - Promoting the award winning UE BOOM bluetooth speakers, through commissioned customise speakers, and two Foffa bike frames. Live custom artworks created during a London launch event.
Chroma and the Defining Moment - The ‘Chroma’ collection celebrates iconic moments from the world of sport, with Straffon collaborating with legendary sports photographer Gerry Cranham.
Paris Match - This series of artworks exposes the polemic relationship between fantasy and reality. Here Paris Match presents a two-fold fabrication - with the glossy facade of the cinematic, overlaying the inner reality of the everyday.
Pigment to Pixel - an exploration of digital process - application of traditional painting and drawing methods within a modern context.

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2021.