Can You See the Real Me? Yasumasa Morimura at the National Museum of Art, Osaka
Like any great actor, the artist Yasumasa Morimura (b. 1951) is blessed with supple features and a physique that lends itself to transformation. Since showing Portrait (Van Gogh), a photographic self-portrait inspired by van Gogh's Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe (1889), in a small-group exhibition called Smile with Radical Will at Galerie 16 in Kyoto in 1985, Morimura has inserted himself into a host of paintings and famous images from popular culture. Over the years, he has morphed into everyone from Che to Chairman Mao, Madonna to Mishima, Sharaku to Scarlett O'Hara -- to say nothing of the occasional fruit or flower. more..
Sense of Place: The Warm Gaze of Seiichi Motohashi at Izu Photo Museum
Susan Rogers Chikuba
The first thing you'll notice upon arrival at the hilltop art complex Clematis no Oka in Shizuoka Prefecture is the fragrant scent -- right there in the parking lot -- of meadow flowers. A few deep breaths of this potent tonic, and any world-weary city woes give way to mounting anticipation: here on this sprawling site in the foothills of Mount Fuji are four museums, a sculpture garden, and wooded trails to explore. Among these delights is the Izu Photo Museum, which through July 5 is showcasing five decades of photographs and films by Seiichi Motohashi. more...
Suburban No-Job Blues: Naoki Tomita at the Maho Kubota Gallery
It's always gratifying to find a younger artist who is not afraid to work in the figurative tradition and manages to bring something new to the table. Naoki Tomita (b. 1983) paints street scenes, portraits, and still lifes in oil, which he applies in big thick daubs to the canvas -- so thick that the strokes jut out of the picture plane, reflecting light and casting shadows on each other. Close-up the scenes dissolve into abstraction, but if you back up a few steps a clear-cut image materializes, nearly photorealistic in its precision. more...