Taking a trip underground on a hot, muggy afternoon, when the Tube is at its most sweltering and unpleasant, is a lot to ask. But from this week it’s worth making a detour to Gloucester Road’s District Line station in London, where 17 arches along the disused platform have been transformed by Japanese artist Chiho Aoshima into a whimsical, futuristic, feminine world.
At one end, dawn breaks over a rural Eden, rich with detail and verdant plant life. In one frame two ostriches race across the plain, in another a giant lizard climbs a palm tree; curving mountains with girlish faces overlook the scene. Further on, night falls over a space-age city, the buildings peeping out from behind a lush, natural foreground. The luxuriant plants and phallic cityscape lend the scene a gentle sexuality.
This is Aoshima’s first public art commission in the UK and there’s something alien, yet entrancing about the style of her digitally created world. She has been exploring the juxtaposition of architecture and building motifs within the natural world in her work for some time. Here she’s created a fantastical scene that integrates techniques reminiscent of Japanese scroll paintings with contemporary pop themes and manga-style graphics. It’s a breath of fresh air on the claustrophobic Underground.
City Glow, Mountain Whisper is on show at Gloucester Road Tube station, London, until 25 January 2007