MANGA DREAMS – An exhibition and new book from Anderson & Low

27 January – 5 March 2011

Hamiltons Gallery
13 Carlos Place
London W1K 2EU

British born photographer, Jonathan Anderson, and Chinese-Malaysian photographer, Edwin Low, have collaborated as the team Anderson & Low since 1990. Best known for their series Athletes, Gymnasts, Athlete/Warrior, Champions and Circus; Manga Dreams is a new project exploring the concepts of identity, culture and costume.

Manga Dreams is an exclusive body of work of highly disciplined studio-based images. Focusing on the dynamic between subject and photographer Manga Dreams explores a visual hybrid of photography, graphics, digital painting and calligraphy with numerous layers of interpretations. Subjects tailor their look to that of manga, including extremely styled hair and elaborate costume, whilst performing for the camera.

Manga, stemming originally from Asia, means ‘cartoon’ and within the context of this exhibition connects street youth and visual cyber culture with contemporary art. The influence of street culture is well recognised in modern art – take Lichtenstein, Warhol and Basquiat for example – and Manga Dreams can be seen as a continuation of this genre, drawing on an Eastern paradigm and applying it to portraiture.

Anderson & Low employ both digital technology and post-production to create additional montage layers to this visually exciting body of work, and have created a world that no longer feels entirely like our own. The underlying current within this project expresses familiar themes throughout Anderson & Low’s work; identity and the projection of identity through appearance.

‘Navigating back and forth between these parallel worlds has altered our perception, we are left with a question we can no longer answer: these dreams we have documented, are they the manga-inspired dreams of humans or the human-inspired dreams of manga?  Is this art imitating life, or life imitating art?’ Anderson & Low

Manga Dreams, a monograph of this project, is published in February 2010 by Lucky Panda Press and has a forward by Yasufumi Nakamori the Assistant Curator of the Museum of Fine Arts, Huston.

Anderson & Low have been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions around the world.  Selected examples of Manga Dreams currently reside in a group show at the National Gallery of Australia and a further exhibition of Manga Dreams will take place at Maison Européene de la Photographie, Paris in 2012.  Their work can also be found in public and private collections including Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Museum of Fine Art, Houston; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; National Portrait Gallery, London; National Portrait Gallery, Australia; Worcester Museum, US Olympic Centre and Museet Fotokunst, Denmark, amongst others.

For more information please contact Hannah Blake at Colman Getty

on 020 7631 2666 or

Notes to editors

  • Jonathan Anderson and Edwin Low are available for interview
  • Selected images from Manga Dreams are available for use. Reproduction only with written permission granted from Anderson & Low
  • Manga Dreams will be on display at Hamiltons Gallery from 27 January – 5 March 2011. Hamiltons Gallery, 13 Carlos Place, London, W1K 2EU, UK
  • Manga Dreams is published in February 2011 by Lucky Panda Press, priced £29.50, Please contact Hannah Blake at Colman Getty for a review copy

How did Manga Dreams come about?

An “environmental metamorphosis” occurs every day in East Asia after the bell signals the end of the school day. When classes are over, young people from school children to university students swarm the shopping malls and hang out discussing everything from the latest trends, etiquettes, films, music and books. Within an hour, the malls are redolent of the school playground, university campus or club and stays that way for hours as waves of these visitors come and go.

During a trip to East Asia in 2004, Jonathan Anderson and Edwin Low witnessed this familiar cultural phenomenon but this time, something visual, had dramatically changed. The shopping malls had become the epicentre for youth tailoring their look to that of manga and anime characters. The result was electrifying. To Jonathan and Edwin, it felt as if they had been transported to another world, a parallel universe populated by these characters.

It is rare that a purely visual art form has had such a profound level of influence on popular culture. For Anderson & Low the result is Manga Dreams. The project connects the worlds of street youth culture with contemporary art and pushes the boundaries of portraiture, whilst expanding the genre of ‘constructed’ tableau imagery. People of all ages read manga comics in East Asia; literally translated the word means “whimsical pictures”. The genre includes a broad range of subjects: action-adventure, romance, sports and games, historical drama, comedy, science-fiction and fantasy, mystery, horror and sexuality.

Anderson & Low

Jonathan Anderson and Edwin Low have been collaborating as the team Anderson & Low since 1990. After the Royal Academy of Arts exhibited one of their early works they decided to enter a long term fine-art photography partnership. Works by Anderson & Low are particularly noted for their attention to concept, form, lighting and printing.

Their major exhibition The Athlete was staged at the invitation of the National Art Gallery of Malaysia for the 1998 Commonwealth Games Cultural Festival. It subsequently toured internationally, with stops including the US Olympic Center in Colorado Springs, and the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, where it was shown during the 2000 Olympics.

A new series of colour figurative images, Circus, was exhibited at The Lowry, Manchester in 2010 as a major exhibition. This series was first debuted at Paris Photo in 2007 and an image was selected for the National Portrait Gallery 2007 Photographic Portrait Award. In 2008 the book Circus was published and an eponymous exhibition took place at the Photographers’ Gallery, London.

Anderson & Low also premiered the project, Champions, a major charity project to benefit the Elton John Aids Foundation, at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from October 2008 – March 2009. A gala auction of prints from this project hosted, by Sir Elton John, was a very successful in raising funds for the charity.

Future exhibitions:

2010   National Gallery of Australia
2011   Family Tree, Museum of the National University of Singapore
2012   Manga Dreams, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France

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