Makoto Aida’s work blends social critique with a nihilistic humor that is tempered by his respect for the styles he lampoons. Harakiri School Girls combines the fetishistic fashions and nubile bodies of fantasy schoolgirls with the time-honored samurai practice of ritual suicide. Its drawing style alludes to the work of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839–1892), an artist often dismissed as "decadent" because of his violent subject matter, madness, and Western influences. In the battle for urban cultural life, Aida’s principal enemy is the gray-suited "salaryman," whose conformism and lack of individual spirit he abhors. The enormous Ash Color Mountains (2009–11) shows the corpses of hundreds of salarymen, each depicted in loving detail, on vast gray tumuli. The series War Picture Returns refers to the 1930s and 1940s, when leading Japanese artists obediently recorded the battles of the Pacific War. Beautiful Flag, the first in the series, collides past atrocities and present realities through the image of two heroic schoolgirls silhouetted against a wasteland, one holding the Japanese flag and the other holding the Korean flag.
- February 28, 2011 – February 28, 2011