How artists are embracing the spirit of Tokyo 2020 Olympics


A screen shot of Adrian Hogan's 'Everyday In Tokyo' artwork, featuring an event called the 'Dash for the Last Train' which is held all over the Japanese capital. Photo: Adrian Hogan

The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is officially underway, and it's a pick-me-up that the pandemic-battered world needs now. The daily sporting excitement, inspirational achievements and spirit-lifting moments are most welcome.

In the visual art world, there is definitely no shortage of diverse works inspired by the Games. Artists have truly embraced the spirit of the Games and are sharing some wonderful Olympics-themed art.

Here’s a pick of some of the most eye-catching artistic interpretations of the Tokyo Olympics:

World Flags Project

You can’t escape having a samurai makeover when the games are held in Tokyo.

A group of Japanese artists banded together under the World Flags project to reimagine the 200 competing nations as samurai characters.

Infusing Japanese culture and the Olympic spirit, these samurai characters come complete with their own backstories, insignia, customised weaponry and awesome costumes.

To stay true to the spirit of the participating nations, the artists have taken inspiration from the countries’ flags, culture, colours and design when creating their samurai counterparts.

Adrian Hogan

Tokyo-based illustrator Adrian Hogan brings an anime vibe to his cheeky and free-spirited Olympics-inspired drawings.

His humorous depictions of everyday people performing Olympic sports and activities in everyday surroundings such as the train station or restaurant are sure to tickle your funny bone.

One of his most liked illustrations on Instagram (more than 14,000 likes!) shows regular Japanese fathers and mothers ferrying their kids or running errands on bicycles.

“We’re unable to attend the Olympics in person but I think that in everyday life you can also see heroic feats of athleticism,” Hogan writes in the caption.

Makoto Tojiki

Japanese artist Makoto Tojiki’s commissioned work called Solidarity + Collaboration (2021) is one of the highlights of the first ever Olympic Agora cultural programme.

Installed at Fukutoku Plaza in Nihonbashi, this larger than life light sculpture is a great representation of Makoto’s usage of light as his primary medium of expression.

Made of steel mesh, the sculpture stands more than 4m tall and depicts two relay runners who are passing the baton.

Xavier Veilhan

French artist Xavier Veilhan’s installation piece called The Audience (2020) is the first ever permanent legacy commission by the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage as part of its Olympic Art Visions programme and will remain in Nihonbashi after the Games.

Featuring five life-size spectators of different ages, genders and ethnicity, the sculptures pay tribute to the diversity of the Olympic games.

Though different, united together, the five human figures embody the idea of a small world village and celebrates universality. Veilhan depicts each of the figures in the colour of the Olympic rings.

Tanaka Tatsuya

Japanese miniature artist Tanaka Tatsuya is known for creating miniature landscapes using everyday objects like stationery, fruits and vegetables paired with figurines.

It’s no surprise that the artist took the same path to create his Olympic Games-themed miniature art.

Tanaka subtly reminds his viewers that the world is still living in pandemic times by using the medical face mask to depict different surfaces and sporting equipment.

From reimagining an Olympic swimming pool and a race track, Tanaka adds life to these familiar scenes with miniature figurines doubling as Olympians.

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