Oft lauded as the King of collaboration, Supreme's latest link-up adds cult fantasy and black humour to their catalogue in honour of legendary erotic illustrator, Toshio Saeki. The collection is a three-piece capsule that features a matching work jacket and work pants, and a hooded sweatshirt that was developed with the artist before his passing last year.
The pieces are covered in a collage of patches and each square is done is Saeki's signature artistic style, which combines Japanese cinema, kamishibai (the handmade picture cards he designed as a child), and ‘Shuga’, a graphic style of Japanese erotic art. The patchwork includes one of his best works called 'Ureshi Daruma' (2018).
Saeki was born in 1945, Miyasaki and started working in the advertising industry at the age of 22 but soon after, he left his job and started his legendary life as an illustrator, bringing to life his imaginative world. The 1970s brought the halcyon days of Toyko sex scene, and the ultra-violent Japenese artist gained vital success with his self-published drawing 'Toshio Saeki conjures death with a pen'. His work included unbridled exploration of violence, death and sex, and he also captured the post-war spirit of cultural rebellion and social reinvention while reflecting the blooming culture in Japan at the time.
Being inspired by western art at school, he believed that in comparison, Japanese art was more conservative than western art and dictated by rules and traditions. Therefore he combined the best of both worlds and created pieces that adapted to Ukiyo-e style, a genre of Japanese art which also translates as pictures of the floating world, and implanted with an overt approach to sexual taboo.
Saeki was also a musician and artist's favourite. Ranging from jazz pianist Yōsuke Yamashita to Osaka punk band Garlicboys to rock band Omoide Hatoba, they all share a common favourite. One of his most famous forays into music would be John Lennon and Yoko Ono 1972 cover for ‘Some Time in New York City’.
The artist once said “The visions that I show people are the incomprehensible stuff of ‘ero’ and mystery… If the reality hidden in my soul — even if it is only the smallest fragment of it — is able to evoke something in the viewer, then my intention has been achieved.”
Saeko’s art might not be everyone’s cup of tea but looking closely into his dreams, it's easy to appreciate the importance of his work. He broke Japanese traditions and taboos, delivering new expressions of sex and exploring the meaning of self in his own way. As the artist had said, he tried to capture a vivid flower that hides and grows within a shameless, immoral and horrifying dream instead of a vivid flower.
The Supreme x Toshio Saeki collection is releasing on Supreme’s official webstore on November 7.