Kenn Sakurai

Placing pop culture on a pedestal and then promptly tearing it down, the work of Kenn Sakurai, aka ESM, is proof that one needn’t hide behind pretense when you’ve got talent to spare. Lowbrow subject matter is skewered and satirized with clever results in Sakurai’s silkscreened prints and street art, which has drawn comparisons to the man who started it all, Warhol. Previous cases in point include “Hello Kissy,” in which the painted love children of the men from Kiss and Hello Kitty find a home on a set of stickers created for Paris’ Colette, and 10 Car Hits, a book of prints he created with frequent collaborator Dave O’Regan in which he emphasizes the cultural import of Tony Danza’s rusty Who’s the Boss? van, among other famous TV vehicles. Since graduating from Vancouver’s Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 1999, the Canadian artist has designed prints, postcards, pillows, stickers, skate decks, and t-shirts that have shown in galleries and sold all over the world. Like much of his work, his pieces for this collection give text and images equal face time. One of his signature devil images – also seen on the streets of Tokyo – sits over top stencil-cut text derived from musical genres, while he stays true to his penchant for pop cultural references with a pixelated homage to everyone’s favorite Gen-X shoplifter, Winona Ryder.