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July 1, 2019

10 Striking Japanese Pop Music Cover Arts by Hiroshi Nagai

“Without American pop art I would not have to start painting the way I did. This experience made me paint my summer skies as deep blues from that point on. That said, surrealism was also a big influence, and of course hyper-realism.” – Hiroshi Nagai
Hiroshi Nagai is a Japanese artist raised at the countryside of Tokushima Prefecture. His initiatives to become an artist and move to Tokyo was through his father as his father was working on his oil paintings while Nagai was growing. Apart from his paintings he has also created some great album covers of Japanese pop music.

“When I did grew up in the 1950s in the countryside in Tokushima Prefecture, I saw my father working on his oil paintings,” Nagai said. “This was not his profession money-wise, but a hobby he did practiced with real dedication; he painted beautiful scenery. Seeing him doing so, brought me to painting – but in a much more modern style than my father and the people who lived around there.⁣ So I decided to go to Tokyo City to become an artist.”

Inspiration were surrealists of the last century, namely Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali, but apart from that significant part of his art is pop art and how it is perceived by U.S.

“But when I took the entrance examination for Art University, I didn’t pass. Instead I chose to take a sketching course with the new goal to become a fashion illustrator. A goal which I did not follow for long as I realized that it was not appropriate, I still longed to be part of the art community of Tokyo. At that time I was very much interested in the works of surrealist artists like Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali. So instead of fashion illustration I worked for TV production companies, painting their film sets, stages and backdrops. It was only a part-time job, and most of the time quite monotonous as I mainly had to produce black and white pictures – but it was a great starting point.”

1. Issei Okamoto – Moonlight Mystery (Discomate, 1980)



2. Eiichi Ohtaki – A Long Vacation (Niagara, 1981)



3. Niagara Fall Of Sound Orchestral – Niagara Song Book (Niagara, 1982)



4. Naoya Matsuoka & Wesing – The September Wind (Warner Bros., 1982)



5. Pedro & Capricious – Sun Patio (Colombia, 1983)



6. Max Romeo – Loving You (Woorell Records, 1983)



7. Various Artists – Hawaiian Dream OST (Moon Records, 1987)



8. Pictured Resort – Southern Freeway (Sailyard, 2017)



9. AAA – No Way Back (Avex Trax, 2017)



10. Various Artists – Pacific Breeze: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1976-1986 (Light In the Attic, 2019)





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