New to the Collection: Gajin Fujita, “Hood Rats”

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Gajin Fujita (American, born 1972), Hood Rats. Spray paint, paint markers, and gold leaf on wood panels, 2012. Toledo Museum of Art, 2015

Gajin Fujita (American, born 1972), Hood Rats. Spray paint, paint markers, and gold leaf on wood panels, 2012. Toledo Museum of Art, 2015. On view in the Wolfe Gallery.

Hailing from East Los Angeles, contemporary artist Gajin Fujita takes inspiration from traditional Japanese woodblock prints of the 18th and 19th centuries, urban street art, and popular culture. Merging these diverse influences, he has created a body of work unified by a remarkable visual vocabulary that is uniquely his own. He uses a stable of materials and methods, including spray paint (applied loosely and through intricately hand cut stencils), paint markers, and gold leaf on wood panels.

In Hood Rats, we see Fujita’s signature combinations of disparate influences. Notably the stylized “Hood Rats” text and the positioning of the two battling figures makes references to the imagery of the Star Wars film series. Similarly, the graffiti in the background and the title itself—a slang term for sexually promiscuous girls in low-income neighborhoods—is a nod to Fujita’s close connection to the urban landscape of East Los Angeles.


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