I while ago I visited the Taro Okamoto museum in Kawasaki. Taro Okamoto is one of the most important Japanese artists from the last century. He was a painter, an sculptor and a writer. His master piece was the Tower of Sun, that he designed for the 1970 Osaka Expo. If you have read 20th Century Boys, then I guess you already know about the Tower of Sun 😉
The Tower of Sun is Taro Okamotos’s master piece.
Taro Okamoto studied in France and traveled a lot around Europe when he was young. Taro recognizes that his style very influenced by Picaso, André Breton, Antonio Gaudí and Miró.
I find pretty interesting those weird faces that Taro Okamoto liked to draw and sculpt. Taro Okamoto spent some years traveling little villages around Japan learning about legends, superstitions and mythological Japanese monsters. He mixed all that in his head and created his own style to create funny and the same time mysterious faces. Many Japanese artists are influenced nowadays by Taro Okamoto, for example some characters created Hayao Miyazaki have faces that look like inspired by Taro Okamoto’s style. Look for example at this Kodamas from Ghibli’s “Princess Mononoke” film:
Kodamas have a mysterious feeling that reminds me Taro Okamoto’s faces.
Also Masashi Kishimoto, the author of Naruto said in some interviews that some of his characters are inspired by Taro Okamoto’s art.