A few years ago, Darren Romanelli (Dr. Romanelli) was in Japan having dinner with up-and-coming artist Masakatsu Sashie when they began talking about favorite bands. Sashie mentioned that he loved T. Rex. Turns out that Romanelli was a fan too. Back in Los Angeles, he met up with Rolan Bolan, son of the late T. Rex mastermind Marc Bolan, mentioned Sashie's work and the idea of a tribute show blossomed. Bolan and his mother, singer Gloria Jones ("Tainted Love") put together a box of photos and collectibles for Sashie to use as inspiration. Romanelli brought in Giant Robot founder Eric Nakamura, who had initially introduced him to the artist's work. After over a year of collaboration, Twentieth Century Boy came to fruition last night in Hollywood, on Marc Bolan's birthday.
Sashie, who got his start exhibiting at Geisai, Takashi Murakami's event for young artists, is known for the use of highly detailed orbs in his work.
"I love how he's creating these floating worlds," says Romanelli. "There's something really incredible about how they sit still."
Sashie's paintings are packed with so many intricacies that every successive viewing reveals something new. Last night, I kept walking in circles around the gallery, stopping to take in each of the pieces while wondering why I hadn't noticed T. Rex 7" vinyl used as tank tires or tiny double cassette players lodged inside one of his orbs.
The one-night-only event brought out a mix of people from the art, music and fashion worlds. In addition to Sashie's works, Greg Papazian and Ara Ashjian displayed previously unpublished photos from T. Rex's 1972 gig in Los Angeles. Japanese clothing company Hysteric Glamour, who co-sponsored the event, brought in a special line of T. Rex t-shirts. Rolan Bolan performed a mix of his own work and T. Rex covers, including, of course, "Twentieth Century Boy." A portion of the proceeds from last night's event will be donated to Light of Love, established by Bolan and Jones to raise funds for the forthcoming Marc Bolan School of Music and Film in Sierra Leone.
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