Tokio Aoyama’s Hoxton art exhibition blows Russell Brand’s mind

Russell Brand and Tokio

Russell Brand and Tokio - Credit: Archant

Comedian Russell Brand, the musician Omar and the band Spektrum were among the famous faces who turned up to Tokio Aoyama’s Hoxton art ­exhibition which aimed to break down social and ­cultural barriers between Japanese and UK artists.

Tokio's Loop exhibition

Tokio's Loop exhibition - Credit: Archant

Tokio Aoyama’s LooP exhibition at the Hoxton Gallery showcased work which will be published next year in a coffee table book he is working on in collaboration with Shafiq Husayn, the Grammy award-winning producer from LA.


The art show was the culmination of a six-week programme which saw a group of 16-24 year olds group of young people who are not in education, employment or training develop the skills required to eventually create, promote and exhibit their own artwork.

Sponsored by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and the Japan Foundation, the aim was to promote a positive cultural artistic exchange between artists from Japan and the UK.

“The idea was for them to understand what it takes to exhibit an artist’s work,” said Darren Springer, curator at Cre8 in Hackney Wick where the workshops were held.

“They learned about art techniques, and the business side of exhibiting their art work and got hands on experience working alongside Tokio.

Most Read

“Russell Brand was walking past one day and came in, he agreed with my statement that Tokio is one of the most dynamic living painters, he said his mind had been blown by his work.”

Many of the course participants said their interest in Japanese culture and art had originally been ignited by the anime and manga movements.

“A young girl actually learned Japanese through watching these early cartoons,” said Mr Springer.

“People learned a lot about Japanese traditions and culture, Tokio says a lot of people know about sushi and ­karate but he wanted to talk about Dogu which are ­ancient artefacts, and their relevance and their hidden history.”

The artefacts which were found in Japan around in the Jomon period around 12,000 to 4,000 years ago inspire the artwork of Tokio.

He has worked with many musicians like Snoop Dog for whom he was commissioned to create artwork which could be used on his upcoming album.

“You find lots of ancient mythologies in the comic books, so we tried to bring the two together and make the ancient and modern relevant for young people,” said Mr Springer.

The exhibition will be on show at Cre8 in Eastway, Hackney Wick, for the last time this Sunday.