History of Royal/T Café

For the past 5 years Royal-T held ground-breaking exhibitions and hosted memorable happenings and events. From The Warholian show curated by Eric Shiner to TAG You’re It! curated by Amber Noland, the shows at Royal-T have been ‘can’t miss’ occasions on the California art scene. Designed by celebrated architect Kulapat Yantrasast of wHY Architecture, this incredible exhibition space boasted a world-class collection with a Japanese twist. From the gift-shop to the café, the brick-lined walls to the innovative protective Lucite vitrines, and the bold industrial interior to the ivy-draped exterior, Royal-T was the daringly audacious idea of a true artistic visionary. But the core of the institution has always been the inspired art collection which has been constructed with amazing intuition, sensitivity and vision. Assembled by world renowned collector Susan Hancock, the Royal-T inspired the Southern California art scene with its irrepressible energy and international flavor.


Past Royal/T Exhibitions:

“Just Love Me”
curated by Yuki Kamiya of the Hiroshima Contemporary Museum in Japan

Just Love Me was the opening exhibition at Royal/T. Selected from the Susan Hancock Collection, Just Love Me explored the complexity of cuteness, and the yearning it reveals in artistic expression today. Cuteness is a gesture expressing an innocent desire to obtain unconditional love from someone who gives one’s heart. It is not always sweet and jovial. Cuteness can also be monomaniac, enigmatic and obsessive accomplishing the craving under its optimistic surface—to be loved. Just Love Me is the title of a neon sign in the collection by Tracey Emin. This exhibition juxtaposed works not only by Japanese contemporary artists but also by various international artists who explore obsessive human desire.

“All of this is Melting Away”
curated by Jay Sanders

The title, taken from a collage by the artist Jim Hodges, expresses a change in form, a disappearance of some sort, though the specifics remain elusive. This notion of transformation—whether flattening out, sinking, melting away, raining down, or even falling asleep resonates throughout the exhibition in works by artists such as Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, Dave Muller and Franz West. These themes also align with animation in its many definitions including creating movement from static forms and images, ascribing human-like qualities to inanimate objects and seeing these objects come to life and can be seen in many of the works throughout the show. Themes of enchantment and fantasy are prevalent as objects open their eyes and unnatural occurrences present themselves.

“Three Apples Hello Kitty 35th Anniversary Celebration”
curated by Jamie Rivadeneira, Japan LA

Three Apples was a multi-dimensional exhibition and celebration of all things Hello Kitty. The three week celebration kicked-off with a VIP event, followed by a residence at Royal/T cafe / shop / art space in Culver City, CA. Three Apples was open to the public, free of charge and featured an art exhibition, unique product and design displays, a one-of-a-kind shop, and special events for fans of all ages – all celebrating Hello Kitty!

Hello Kitty gallery of contemporary artists and Hello Kitty fans including Gary Baseman, Ron English, Friends With You, Buff Monster, Camilla d’Errico, Luke Chueh, Deph and Yosuke Ueno – just a few of the 60+ artists that interpreted their vision of Hello Kitty in one-of-a kind pieces on display. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the art was donated to L.A. Works -a nonprofit, volunteer action center that creates and implements hands-on community service projects throughout the greater Los Angeles area.

“I Can’t Feel My Face”
curated by KAWS

I Cant Feel My Face featured works by over 25 contemporary artists and shares the title with a painting by KAWS that was a centerpiece of the exhibition, which explores the theme of contemporary portraiture as a vehicle of inherent emotive expression. The faces and figures in the works evoke a range of feelings and offer a view into the fractured imagery and energy of the creative mind. Faces are transposed and contorted, abstracted and obliterated, highly detailed or conversely stripped down to the simplest of lines. Like a human face, the images are each individual, at once recognizable but also unique. New large paintings by KAWS were included in the exhibition and were joined by a large life-size Chum that acted as a sentry in the space, watching over the works while also playing with scale and proportion.

“In Bed Together”
curated by Jane Glassman from LACMA Acquisition Committee

In Bed Together, A collaborative show with approximately 50 works by 50 artists submitted by 50 invited art professionals. Artworks include painting, drawing, mixed media, sculpture, video, photography, and performance.  Artists with works on view and the full circle of art professional submitters add up to a collaboration of 100…all receiving equal billing; the point of the exhibition being that each specific role in the art world is critically dependent and supportive of the other.  Presented together with personal texts, the selections told a compelling story of the contemporary art world today.

“The Never Ending Story, Fairytale, Fantasy, Obsession”
curated by Laura Hoptman/MOMA NYC

Like the cafe, the exhibition explored the realms of fantasy and fairy tales and featured the work of artists Seonna Hong, Carrie Jardine and many others. “Beneath every fairy tale is an allegory, and behind every symbol is a myth that connects the contemporary world to an ancient one,” curator Laura Hoptman says. “The Never Ending Story” features works that speak to the viewer in a contemporary language, but also appeal on a deeper, more metaphysical level. The works in the show are the results of the playful, inventive human imagination, as well as the products of human longings, fears, and meditations on the unanswerable questions attendant to life on earth today.

“The Warholian”
curated by Eric Shiner from The Andy Warhol Museum

Commemorating the influence of famed American artist Andy Warhol with “Warholian,” the exhibition brought a selection of his most renowned paintings to their Los Angeles roots, together with contemporary works by artists he has inspired over the years. Curated by Eric Shiner, director at the Andy Warhol Museum, pop art aficionados would recognize iconic pieces such as “Marilyn” (1967), “Electric Chair” (1971), and “Dollar Sign” (1981) courtesy of Alan Finkelstein, among other works by artists who draw from Warhol’s Keatonesque style including Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, and Richard Prince.

curated by Kathy Grayson, Director of The Hole Gallery (NYC)

Formerly a director at Deitch Projects in New York City, Grayson’s vision for “FACEMAKER” brought together the top young artists in America, Japan, Greece and Belgium who have an innovate take on how to compose the most universal element of human perception, the face. We are cognitively wired to see faces in everything, and these artists are creatively driven to find new ways to make a face, whether in painting, drawing, sculpture or video. In the same way that every generation of artists has their own take on the figure—whether hyperrealized, collaged, psychological, or geometric—today’s young artists exhibit their own approach to the simple composition of the face that is often idiosyncratic, fragmented, degraded, wild and wacky. From impastoed painters like Alison Schulnik, to posterized silkscreeners like Shepard Fairey, to the most skilled graffiti trained elegant hand of Barry McGee, the faces in this show challenged assumptions to consider the face in a new way.

Featuring works from contemporary young artists including the title piece by Ben Jones, in addition to Dearraindrop, Shepard Fairey, Takashi Murakami, Barry McGee, Kenny Scharf, Eric Yahnker, Jane Moseley, Olaf Breuning, Carroll Dunham, KAWS, Ted Mineo, David Shrigley, and Gary Webb, and explored interpretations of the most universal element of human perception: the face.

curated by Lindsay Scoggins

The new exhibit’s whimsical connotation alludes to the common human experience of reinterpreting everyday surroundings by animating childhood experiences and curiosities. Featured works include an eclectic mix of beastly beings depicted as party-goers and captivating creatures as formidable adversaries that transform the space into an indulgently imaginative environment, with works by Lindsay Scoggins, Takashi Murakami, Jeff Koons, KAWS, and Yoshitomo Nara among many others. Works aim to construct an ambiance of imagination where opposing forces such as domestic and wilderness merge, alluding to an extended notion of anthropomorphism and zoomorphism. Various beastly beautiful beings bring the viewer’s current mental standpoint into question, reflecting upon past moments with new sentiment and value.

“East Village West”
curated by Ann Magnuson and Kenny Scharf

A show by curators Ann Magnuson and Kenny Scharf that celebrated California pop culture as siphoned through the punk rock-fueled creativity of New York’s East Village art scene with works from their personal archives, in official partnership with “Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980.” This unprecedented collaboration, initiated by the Getty, brought together more than 60 cultural institutions from across Southern California for six months beginning October 2011 to tell the story of the birth of the L.A. art scene.

Magnuson—who ran the legendary N.Y.C. neo-Dada cabaret and arts lab “Club 57” from 1978-1981—and Scharf—who recently showed in MOCA’s “Art in the Streets”, contributed visual and performance works, as well as pieces by other like-minded suburban refugees who created extraordinarily exuberant art and performances that put a surrealistic spin on the variety shows of their childhood. Other East Village luminaries who were weaned on Atomic Age pop culture and whose work was featured in Royal/T’s Pacific Standard Time exhibit included Keith Haring, Jean Michel Basquiat, Tseng Kwong Chi, and John Sex, among many others.

“TAG you’re it!”
curated by Amber Noland

The Getty’s Pacific Standard Time collaboration of more than 60 cultural institutions from across Southern California to tell the story of the birth of the L.A. art scene drew much of the city’s attention to the past but simultaneously inspired Royal/T and curator Amber Noland to look to the future with a contemporary perspective on art at “child’s eye view.” Determined to bring high art to eye level, Noland focused the exhibition around what kids might want to see such as—giant dogs (Your Dog by Yoshitomo Nara), fluffy cloud princesses (Beatrice by Will Cotton), or gilded turn tables (Bhangra Remix by Jim Lambie)—all whilst highlighting works from emerging artists, contemporary galleries, and highly regarded private collections to provide the next generation of art enthusiasts and collectors with an intimate connection to experiencing art. The exhibition brought together works from all corners of the art world and was an accumulation of Noland’s 20-year career as the founder of Art Collection Management.

The playful exhibition focused on several themes, including emerging art, conceptual works, and unexpected materials and will be installed at kid level, encouraging younger audiences to literally see eye-to-eye with art. After examining the works, kids were be able to play a game of ART TAG, a conceptual game of “hide and seek” between the viewer and ideas hidden within the pieces. To support the exhibition, a number of artists, curators, and collectors visited Royal/T to share stories about their jobs and works they love.

“The Art of Cooking”
curated by Hanne Mugaas

Intended to induce “the pleasures of the table,” the exhibition showcased artists who obsess, explore and celebrate food in their work from depictions of gourmet meals to donuts. Curated by Hanne Mugaas, founder of Art Since the Summer of ʼ69, an art space on Manhattanʼs Lower East Side, the exhibition presented work in a range of media, from drawing and painting to digital prints and clothing. “Food has always been present in art, and something we can all relate to as a social signifier and everyday source of pleasure,” says Mugaas. “With this show I wanted to focus on contemporary artists who represent food in interesting but also humorous ways.”