Exploring Contemporary Art - British Art Show 8

Simon Fujiwara - Fabulous Beasts (2015)

Artist biography:

Simon Fujiwara is a British/Japanese artist. Born in 1982, Fujiwara grew up in Carbis Bay, Cornwall and travelled between Britain, Japan, Spain and Africa. He originally trained as a pianist, before studying Architecture at Cambridge University, then Fine Art in Frankfurt. 

Fujiwara now lives in Berlin and his art work is shown in galleries all over the world. In 2015, he was among the artists selected by the Southbank Centre to curate their ‘History is Now’ exhibition just before the 2015 General Election.


Simon Fujiwara’s work blurs biography, fact and fiction and often explores the boundaries of stories and reality. This is reflected in his sources of inspiration for this art work, such as, his 2012 ‘Mothers of Invention’, which was inspired by a novel, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and a real location, Barbara Hepworth’s St Ives studio. 

Fujiwara has spoken about being inspired by Tracy Emin while growing up and the way in which her art work cannibalises her life. Within interviews he has spoken about the idea of ‘de-elitism’ of the art world, that people are now much freer to produce their own artwork – from home cinema to curating soundtracks.


Fujiwara’s art work has encompassed a range of formats, from photographs to performance pieces, pottery to written fiction to stage sets and curated objects. His art work is highly varied. In ‘The Museum of Incest’ (2007) he created an imaginary museum, complete with display cases, slides and a guided tour, while ‘San Simon’ (2012) consists of a life-size cowboy figure.

Fabulous Beasts (2015)

In this art work Simon Fujiwara has taken fur coats as his material. The coats have been shaved, uncovering the skin and stitching beneath, then sewn together into raw, abstract art works. They resemble raw canvases with abstract shapes and colours exposed beneath.

Discussion ideas:

  • Look at the image above of one of the art works from ‘Fabulous Beasts’. Describe what you see?
  • What does the title 'Fabulous Beasts' make you think of?
  • Why might Fujiwara have chosen to work with fur coats?
  • How is the artist playing with our ideas about fur coats?

View other relevant My Learning resources or see the teachers' notes page for discussion and activity ideas.

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