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

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image image 1 August 2017
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Open Space 2017: Re-envisioning the Future
27 May 2017 - 11 March 2018
NTT InterCommunication Center (ICC)
(Tokyo)
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"Open Space" is ICC's annual showcase of media art and other diverse modes of creative expression in the contemporary media environment. This 12th iteration, which coincides with the center's 20th anniversary, reviews the past two decades even as it takes up the theme of creating new visions for the future. A must-see is the beautiful work of Aura Satz, who interweaves the concerns of science and society in her film and installation.

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Beyond Sculpture: Drawings as Objects, Objects as Drawings - Keiji Uematsu, Jun Tamba, Chu Enoki
4 July - 28 September 2017
BB Plaza Museum of Art
(Hyogo)
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Three veteran artists -- Uematsu (b. 1947), Tamba (b. 1952), and Enoki (b. 1944) -- take turns holding one-month solo shows. Usually we think of sculptures as solid and drawings as flat, but if we consider space as its support, a sculpture could be treated as a drawing, and a drawing might well qualify as a sculpture. An ambitious attempt by a trio of maverick elder statesmen to expand the concepts of sculpture and drawing.
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Masanori Nishimura: Megamega Kirakira - Nichijyogumi

1 July - 31 August 2017

Satonone Hall
(Hyogo)
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A giant megaphone for shouting from the top of a mountain to the city below . . . A gargantuan child's umbrella through which sunlight pours from countless holes . . . Nishimura is known for his mammoth participatory sculptures. Based in the city of Sanda in Hyogo Prefecture, he celebrates the 10th anniversary of the local cultural center with this large-scale solo installation. One looks forward to seeing how his work resonates in a public-hall setting.
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Architect Otaka Masato and Kamakura Annex

27 May - 3 September 2017

The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura Annex
(Kanagawa)

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Otaka (1923-2010) designed the Kamakura Annex, which opened in 1984. Due to close for repairs until fall 2019 after this exhibition ends, the Annex offers a final opportunity to see Otaku's original design during a show that examines the architect's art-related work while also reviewing the museum's activities of the last 33 years. Among the revelations: Otaka was head juror for a contemporary sculpture competition, and was involved in planning Yokohama's mammoth Minato Mirai complex.
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Kenta Cobayashi: Insectautomobilogy / What is an aesthetic?
3 June - 12 August 2017
G/P gallery
(Tokyo)
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Born in 1992, Cobayashi is part of the first generation of photographic artists to have completely mastered the use of digital tools. This latest series takes the premise that the automobiles swarming the streets of cities are like insects with a collective intelligence resembling that of ants. Here the artist displays a number of objects in addition to his photos, but further experimentation may be in order to determine how to better reflect his broad-ranging concepts in his works.
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Kawabata Ryushi - Nihonga Goes Beyond the Bounds

24 June - 20 August 2017

Yamatane Museum of Art
(Tokyo)
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Nihonga artist Kawabata (1885-1966) painted some intriguing war pictures. One, Mount Xianglu, is 2.4 meters high and over 7 meters long. A life-size fighter plane fills it from edge to edge, its vermilion paint vividly contrasting with the green of the mountain below, which is visible because the fuselage is transparent. If that weren't enough, the artist has also positioned the plane so that the rising sun on the fuselage sits smack in the middle of the painting.
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Meiji Kogei: Amazing Japanese Art
22 April - 11 June 2017
Kawagoe City Art Museum
(Saitama)
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A selection of some 130 pieces from more than 3,000 Meiji-era (1868-1912) craftworks owned by Taiwan collector Peian Sung. It is indeed an amazing collection that ranges from metalwork, ivory and lacquerware to ceramics, cloisonne and dyework, all boasting the most exquisite craftsmanship. The high point is a three-meter-long metal dragon, the largest freestanding ornament in the world, its presence enhanced by suspension in midair.
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The Evolution of Realism: Yuichi Takahashi, Ryusei Kishida, and Their Bridge to the Present
15 April - 11 June 2017
The Hiratsuka Museum of Art
(Kanagawa)
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In attempting to trace the genealogy of realism in Japanese painting, this show cast a wide net beyond narrow definitions of the term to embrace all forms of painterly expression that excel in reproducing the real world with verisimilitude. Featured were 52 artists ranging from modern-era pioneers Takahashi and Kishida to Horyu Goseda and Naojiro Harada to contemporary artists like Susumu Kinoshita and Yoshio Yoshimura.
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Yohshi Itokawa Photo Exhibition: Osaka Entertainer Streets
1 - 18 June 2017
10W Gallery
(Osaka)
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Osaka-based photographer Itokawa (b. 1934) may be best known for his series of still shots from the film version of Haruki Murakami's novel Hear the Wind Sing. This show offered 130 photos selected from the many he took for covers of the magazine Monthly Yoshimoto from 1994 to 1999. Portraits of entertainers against Osaka backdrops, they eloquently document their time and place.
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Toyosaki Lost And Found
13 - 28 May 2017

gallery yolcha
(Osaka)

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A large number of collage artworks were discovered when a vacant house in Osaka's Toyosaki district was torn down a year ago. The works, whose artist and owner are unknown, formed the centerpiece of this show. Two artists who use the collage technique, Ryota Nishikawa and Iori Nishiwaki, were tasked with selecting which pieces to exhibit, and also displayed new work of their own inspired by the mysterious found collages. Though small in scale, the exhibition itself had a pleasant air of mystery and romance.
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