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Picks is a monthly sampling of Japan's art scene, offering short reviews of exhibitions at museums and galleries in recent weeks, with an emphasis on contemporary art by young artists.

2 June 2008
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picks
Tadanori Yokoo: New Paintings
7 March - 5 April 2008
SCAI The Bathhouse
(Tokyo)
Since the debut of his stunning graphic design work in the 1960s, Yokoo has been a powerful influence on the Japanese cultural scene. This exhibit of all new works features the paintings he has lately devoted himself to, giving viewers an opportunity to see Yokoo's artistic evolution while it is in progress.
picks
Tadashi Kawamata Exhibition
11 March - 6 April 2008
Hillside Forum
(Tokyo)
In tandem with his show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, installation artist Kawamata displays drawings and models here, some for the first time. A symposium discusses the "Under Construction" project he installed at Hillside Terrace in 1984 and its aftermath.
picks
We didn't do it: UK street art today
23 March - 6 April 2008
Laforet Museum Harajuku
(Tokyo)
This show at one of Tokyo's major fashion outlets features works by thirty of Britain's most radical graffiti artists: Banksy, Jamie Hewlett, Pure Evil, Yob, and Ripper to name a few. The exhibition title notwithstanding, these artists take a unanimously assertive stance toward contemporary society.
picks
Daisuke Fukunaga: Local Emotion
5 - 26 April 2008
Tomio Koyama Gallery
(Tokyo)
Mops leaning against a wall... a picture drawn on a dilapidated fence... Fukunaga paints places that reek of abandonment. "Local Emotion" refers to feelings inspired by forgotten neighborhoods and backstreets, as if the walls, fences, and mops were willing these paintings into existence. This is Fukunaga's second solo show (he is still in his twenties).
picks
Tadahiko Nakayama: Eternal Goddess
26 March - 7 April 2008
Nihonbashi Takashimaya 8F Hall
(Tokyo)
The several dozen paintings in this exhibition are all portraits of the same woman -- the artist's wife -- dressed in garments of different colors, like a living dress-up doll. What strikes one as truly odd, however, is that while the real Mrs. Nakayama has aged at a normal pace over the years, the renderings in these portraits seem to have changed at barely a quarter that rate.
picks
Tadanori Yokoo: Onsen
15 March 2008
Nishimura Gallery
(Tokyo)
Yet another solo show by the prolific Yokoo, this one features his "Onsen" (Spa) series of paintings, each inspired by a particular hot spring resort. In Yokoo's imagination, these spas resemble gaudy nocturnal Disneylands, like a cross between ukiyo-e and pop art.
picks
Yu Hirai
22 April - 4 May 2008
Art Space Niji
(Kyoto)
On the theme of "Boundaries," this is a series of photos by Hirai of an old "Action Man" doll which she has made up and dressed in a handmade red dress. The result is a gender-straddling but disturbingly lifelike figure.
picks
Takako Hojo: holy green
1 - 26 April 2008
INAX Gallery 2
(Tokyo)
Hojo painted these oils and watercolors of woodlands and meadows near Muison-so, the former studio of the artist Torajiro Kijima, while she was in residence one summer under the auspices of the Ohara Art Museum in Kurashiki. These are no mere landscapes, however; Hojo's intense greens do indeed border on the holy.
picks
Manika Nagare: Melting Scene
3 - 26 April 2008
Galerie Tokyo Humanite
(Tokyo)
Nagare's oils appear at first glance to be abstracts, but then fragments of human forms come into view. The artist says that figures are in fact a point of departure for her. But the images, vivid and fluid, stand on their own with distinctive coloring and brushwork that merit prolonged scrutiny.
picks
Aki Kuroda: Cosmojungle
15 March - 26 April 2008
Mori Yu Gallery
(Tokyo)
In this installation-like show of new works by Kuroda, who has lived in Paris for 38 years, the artist supplements his paintings with drawings on paper and graffiti-like scribblings on walls. All of his work reflects a master's touch: that of a veteran who has retained his youthful outlook.
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