Gangsta Geisha

LOS ANGELES — Tokyo’s "ganguros" may be yesterday’s headline-making street tribe, but those young and mostly female disciples of hip-hop with their head-to-toe ghetto style — permed afros or platinum dyed hair, and orangey...

Brown returned from Japan last summer, after she’d already started the series questioning her own focus. "I felt guilty. They take what they do very seriously and I didn’t want it to seem like I was trivializing it." As for Japan’s youth, recent summers already saw the rise of the "ganjiro," hip-hop fans who became obsessed with sunscreen after deciding tanning beds were harmful. On the street, it became about white versus black.

Now, the art world is taking her work seriously. The Venice show sold out before it opened Sept. 8, and her paintings in New York are nearly all claimed, too. Her collectors have been a mix of those buying them because of looks and others for what the surface reveals.

"I don’t want this work just to be about a Japanese-African influence. It speaks to how we assume new indentities through clothes and music. It’s all drag."
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