Art Histories II Pop Art Haniwa – Final Artist’s Statement & Bibliography

DD1004: Introduction to the Histories of Art II

Final Research and Practice Project

Title of the Work: Pop Art Haniwa

Team Member: Cheng Shao Meng (Merlin), Ong Ting Hui, Amy, Seth Devanshi

Artist’s Statement

This artwork comments on how Haniwa have been stripped of their original context, misrepresented and distorted in popular media today.

Haniwa are clay figures that were originally used for rituals and the burial of the dead in Japan during the Kofun period (3rd to 6th centuries AD). However, modern popular culture (or pop culture) has since played a huge influence on the image of Haniwa, and the Haniwa has be appropriated into forms such as game characters, figurines and even collectible toys.

Ever since these forms of appropriation were made known to us, the oscillating relationship between pop culture and traditional figurines has left us both fascinated and puzzled. This distortion is continued in our artwork to give another new face to the Haniwa as a response to the phenomenon of cultural appropriation due to the global spread of consumerism.

Our team responded by sculpting a 6 to 7-inch Hello Kitty in Haniwa form but with a Pop Art – loud and colorful, commercial style. Hello Kitty as a popular cartoon character holds widespread and universal appeal, making our work more relatable and understandable to a wider audience.

The final artwork is imagined to be massed produced and sold in toy shops which brings out the great contrast between the morbid cultural aspect of Haniwa and the cute and adorable distortion that popular culture painted.

The paper prototype is an advertisement image that features the different Haniwa designs where we imagined being reproduced in magazines, newspapers and billboards.

Through this work, we hope to convey to our audience the widespread and commercial nature of the appropriation of traditional figures in popular culture. At the same time, we hope that this work would pique the interest of our audience and encourage them to find out about the Haniwa figure, and by extension spreading the interest and knowledge of their own cultural heritage that is so often forgotten.



Horowitz, Daniel. “Pop Art from Britain to America” in Consuming Pleasures: Intellectuals and Popular Culture in the Postwar World,  University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012.

Frost,  Andrew. “Pop to Popism review – shock and social critique, with an Australian thread”, The Guardian. Last modified 3 Nov 2014.

Rosenberg, Karen. “Navigating the Art of Japan From a Different Direction”, The New York Times. Last modified 10 Apr 2014.

Bonnie Abiko. “Kofun period.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, accessed March 25, 2016,

Marco Livingstone. “Pop art.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, accessed March 25, 2016,

Appignanesi, Richard, and Chris Garratt. Introducing Post-Modernism:  A Graphic Guide. Cambridge:  The Old Diary, 2007.


Leave a Reply