Paul Kaiju Brings His Monsters to Toy Art Gallery
Melrose Avenue was abuzz Saturday evening with anticipation for the opening of Paul Kaiju's "Paulyvinyl State of Mind" at Toy Art Gallery. The San Diego-based artist is a hot name on the designer-toy circuit, but this was his first solo show in Los Angeles. Collectors had been showing up at the store since that afternoon to secure tickets to purchase Kaiju's work. By 6:30 p.m., the line was thick, but the work was still kept largely under wraps. TAG's windows remained draped until the opening reception began a half-hour later.
Liz Ohanesian Paul Kaiju with his kaiju Boss Carrion
Kaiju is not his original name -- it's based on the name for the group of Japanese monsters that have captivated movie audiences since the second half of the 20th century. Godzilla, Mothra and Rodan are all kaiju. In the toy world, kaiju remain popular subjects. Inspired by the frightening yet whimsical characters, artists produce their own figures made from vinyl, resin and other materials.
Kaiju, the artist, has been creating his figures for only a few years, but he's been a fan of big-screen monsters since childhood. He used to catch his dad watching Creature Features, old horror shows, on a small black-and-white TV back in Chicago, and those now-retro images stuck with him.
"I like to reel back to the basic simplicity of monster-suit designs by, say, Paul Blaisdell, who did Invasion of the Saucer Men," says Kaiju. "A lot of them were primitive-looking, but they had a big impact on me and I liked the style."
Kaiju used to work in the aerospace industry. While he had long wanted to pursue art, that proved to be difficult. "Jobs like that don't leave you a lot of time," he says. Eventually, though, he had a now-or-never moment.