Gez Fry: contemporary Japanese illustration crosses over the bridge of dreams

Gez Fry is a Tokyo-based illustrator whose client-list contains everyone from the Royal Mail to Marvel Comics. Fry originally trained as a diplomat, but relocated to Japan to live with his future wife, where his work clearly took on the influences of Japanese Manga. But what is so special about it is that there’s something else in there as well: notice the level of detail and realism in his work, but also the child-like quality of the stars in the sky outside the window.

The rest of his portfolio is equally admirable. This recent work, for example, shows an influence of ukiyo-e traditional woodblock-printing, although the subject matter is clearly that of contemporary Ginza, a rich quarter of central Tokyo. There is a trend in contemporary illustration that is taking Japanese pop culture and producing something that is both more subtle and surreal than the super-flat images we have grown accustomed to. I would say that Fry’s work is comparable with the other leading lights of this floating world. The work of the likes of Yuko Shimizu, Kozyndan and Yuji Moriguchi mixes contemporary influences with historic painting styles. It is more interesting to me than almost anything in contemporary painting.

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