DOMO ARIGATO MR. ROBOTO: Toy Porn 2 Review

Art, Comics, Film, Japanning July 26, 2011

Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto! Tonight I went to the opening of a fascinating exhibition in Chippendale an area that is becoming something of an art scene (in the last few weeks I have been to exhibitions at galleries within a stone’s throw of each other-MOP, NG and White Rabbit). This exhibition Toy Porn 2 showcased the work of artist Nick Stathopoulos who recently made a portrait of the comics creator Shaun Tan for the Archibald Prize. There are no portraits of Tan here but appearances by character creations from animation, comics and films such as Astro Boy, Tintin, Batman, Thunderbirds, Robby the Robot, The Beatles in their Yellow Submarine, and assorted others. (Note: the Tan portrait was on display in the restaurant downstairs-see comment below by Ian McLean).

He always comes between us – Acrylic and oil glaze on canvas-2011-60 x 60 cm

Stathopoulos paints in an extremely hyper-realistic style on a flat canvas but manages to deliver a convincing three dimensional effect. He does intensely detailed, very fine painting with no trace of brush strokes. His rendering of plastic surfaces is extraordinary. It is a labour of love. There is tension evident in the work. He always comes between us portrays a moment of drama with Snowy separated by a surprised Tintin and an annoyed Captain Haddock. A painting of the package containing the Yellow Submarine toy is a tense sight to collectors and toy hunters for its detailed representations of scuffs, scratches and bends in the box that indicate the toy is in a less than mint condition yet still to be cherished.

Michael Hill a.k.a. Doctor Comics with the artist at the opening. (Photo by Louise Graber)

Michael Hill a.k.a. Doctor Comics with the artist at the opening. (Photo by Louise Graber)

Porn? I am familiar with shelf porn, the display of treasured collections. There are comics collectors who proudly reveal photographs of their bookshelves with the spines of all the graphic novels they own and that others might envy. The notion of ‘display’ of one’s collection, or as Claudia Chan Shaw described in her address, one’s ‘habit’, seems to be an essential element of this behaviour. So perhaps you looks at these images of someone else’s collection and long for or ‘lust’ over the titles that they have that you don’t? There is the love for the object in question and the desire for possession of it.

The artist does his impression of Tintin astonishment sans stand-up curl but with Capt. Haddock beard. (Photo by Louise Graber)

The show was opened by Claudia Chan Shaw, ABC-TV’s Collectors, who admitted to being a bit of a collector with a weakness for plastic and vinyl. She even brought one of her toys along to the event. Her speech was both erudite and amusing and she demonstrated a fine understanding of the business and motivation for collecting including, in this instance, the need for a reconnection with the playthings of one’s childhood. She was charming. Discussing her own collecting habits Claudia mentioned the therapeutic value of going public and sharing stories with other collectors, gaining empathy in a kind of collaborative complicity. She was wonderful, the perfect choice to launch this show.

"Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto!" Claudia Chan Shaw, Doctor Comics and the artist Nick Stathopoulos. (Photo by Louise Graber)

“Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto!” Claudia Chan Shaw, Doctor Comics and the artist Nick Stathopoulos. (Photo by Louise Graber)

Standing next to Nick’s portrait of Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet and opposite the Thunderbirds and with Claudia and Nick duelling with their Astro Boys, images of Tezuka’s Tetsuwan Atomu and the music of Queen’s Domo arigato Mr. Roboto by Japanese band Polysics played in my mind. Robots, rockets, plastic and vinyl were GO! This exhibition is an affectionate tribute to toys, their collection and preservation. Toy love. Well done Nick!  Good show. Comics lovers should definitely see it.

Toy Porn 2 is on at NG Art Gallery Little Queen Street, Chippendale, 26 July-13 August.

UPDATE:  Two years later Nick has provided a further instalment titled Toy Porn 3 at the same gallery from 24 September -12 October 2013 (See images on invite below).

Art from Toy Porn 3 by Nick Stathopoulos.

Art from Toy Porn 3 by Nick Stathopoulos.

by

Creator and former Director of the Master of Animation course at the University of Technology, Sydney, Michael Hill has a Master's degree in animation and a PhD in comics, prompting his introduction on ABC Radio as “Doctor Comics”. A member of the editorial boards of the International Journal of Comic Art, the Comics Grid Journal of Comics Scholarship and the Advisory Committee of the Q-Collection Comic Book Preservation Project, he has delivered public lectures on Anime and Manga and held academic directorships in Interdisciplinary Studies, Design and Visual Communication. Having donated his collection of research materials on Australian alternative comics to the National Library of Australia he is now active in the artistic domain and creating his own graphic novel Blotting Paper.

Comments 23

  1. Ian McLean says on July 27, 2011

    Great night. Nick’s latest Archibald portrait of Shaun Tan *was* there – in the downstairs restaurant! The previous Tan portrait was down there at the first “Toy Porn”.

    • Doctor Comics says on July 27, 2011

      Oops! Thanks Ian. It was so crowded in the gallery and on the stairs that I missed that. Anyway I plan to go back and take in a quieter view of the work. I shall definitely have a look in the restaurant too at the Tan portrait and amend the text accordingly.

  2. budi says on August 18, 2011

    Hi, maybe you could have fun looking at this blogspot 😀
    budiadinugroho.blogspot.com

    cheers,
    budi

      • Doctor Comics says on August 23, 2011

        Thank you Budi, I had a look at your images. They are fantastic! I love the sequence of using Snowy as a paint brush to do a painting on the floor. I also enjoyed the Ultraman god figure. So you use resin and you like it shiny? Tell me about the black guitars work “Vorsicht Klatsch!”

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