Title: Shapeshifting Comparison Takezawa Toji (Diamond Dogs)
Artistic Director: Yuka Mitsui
Illustrator: Masumi Ishikawa
Wood Carver: Yusuke Sekioka
Printer: Tatsuya Ito
Edition: 164 / 200
Size: 48 x 34 cm
David Bowie’s interest in Japanese culture began in the 1970s when he worked with fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto to create ensembles for his colourful alter-ego, Ziggy Stardust. Soon after, he took an interest in Kabuki theatre and was heavily influenced by the exaggerated gestures, costumes and make-up. He also worked with actor Bando Tamasaburo who taught Bowie how to apply traditional kabuki makeup, which led to the entertainer’s iconic lightning bolt look.
This print was inspired by Terry O’Neill’s ‘Diamond Dogs’ photograph from 1974 in which Bowie poses calmly beside a barking dog. The print sees Bowie’s persona as The Thin White Duke reimagined as Takezawa Toji, a popular magician from the Edo period. The dog is stylised in the traditional style, appearing as a mythological beast, the nine-tailed fox.
Takezawa Toji II was a popular magician with many tricks and gimmicks during the Edo Period, portrayed in popular prints of the time by artists such as Kuniyoshi Utagawa (see reference image). In a similar fashion, the entertainer Bowie was fond of his persona as an illusionist on stage. This is reflected in the print through his dramatic pose next to the fox, spinning a top (koma).
Although the original photo is presented in black and white, the eyepatch David Bowie wore was red and black, as was his clothing.