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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 February 2018
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Place M 30th Anniversary Exhibition: The Place M Collection
18 - 28 December 2017
Place M
(Tokyo)
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Three decades have passed since photographer Masato Seto opened his Place M gallery in 1987. This retrospective featured original prints not only by prominent associates like Daido Moriyama, Issei Suda, Hajime Sawatari, and Masahisa Fukase, but also by younger, lesser-known artists nurtured by the venue, which surely owes its longevity to its function as a meeting place for photographers -- famous and obscure -- through workshops, rental darkrooms and other services.
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Qenji Yoshida x Wantanee Siripattananuntakul: Intersection / Tourist Trap
10 - 30 December 2017
Gallery wks.
(Osaka)
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Yoshida's perennial themes are language, translation, and dialogue. Here he presented a performance video featuring himself and Thai artist Wantanee Siripattananuntakul, who held a parallel exhibition in Bangkok at exactly the same time. The collaboration was a provocative study in the physical constraints that prevent us from being in two places at once, as well as the consequent importance of cultivating a multi-perspective imagination.
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Takashi Arai / Mikiko Hara: Day to Day

5 - 18 November 2017
Tokyo College of Photography
(Kanagawa)
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Commemorating the college's 60th anniversary this year, this student-organized exhibition featured major works by two Kimura Ihei Award-winning alumni; Hara graduated in 1994 and Arai in 2004. Hara takes snapshots, while Arai is a practitioner of the classic daguerreotype process. Stylistically they couldn't be farther apart, yet, as this show made clear, they share a common interest in chronicling everyday occurrences.
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Yasuichiro Suzuki: Mushrooms of the Virgin Forest
1 - 25 November 2017
Sanshin Gallery Zen
(Shizuoka)
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An artist whose two-dimensional works range from drawings to photographs, Shizuoka-based Suzuki is also known as a mushroom aficionado and researcher. In this show he offered not only photos of mushrooms in their natural habitats, but also close-ups of the fungi set off against colored-paper backdrops in large prints, or illuminated at night. All these approaches help instill in the viewer a newfound appreciation of the magic and mystery of these curious flora.
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Joji Hashiguchi: Individual - Japan and Japanese
6 November - 20 December 2017
Shadai Gallery, Tokyo Polytechnic University
(Tokyo)
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Hashiguchi's "Japanese Series," which he began in 1987, became not only his masterwork as a photographer, but also an iconic achievement that set the tone for photodocumentaries of life in Japan in the 1980s and 1990s. This exhibition marked the first time that five segments of the series -- "Map of 17," "Father," "Couple," "Work 1991-1995," and "Dreams" -- had been shown together. With their clear-eyed look at the realities of Japan and Japanese people during that era, they form the core of Hashiguchi's oeuvre.
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TAKT PROJECT: SUBJECT <--> OBJECT
18 November - 3 December 2017
Axis Gallery
(Tokyo)
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TAKT PROJECT is a group of four designers headed by Satoshi Yoshiizumi. Though now in its fifth year, this was the unit's first full-scale review of its activities. The presentation took the form of a series of "subjects" and their concrete manifestations as "objects." The group's avowed determination to discover new possibilities by breaking out of preconceived frameworks has inspired a noteworthy portfolio of innovative designs.
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Satoshi Suzuki: Fork in the Road
22 - 28 November 2017
Ginza Nikon Salon
(Tokyo)
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This is the sixth show at Nikon Salon by photographer Suzuki, who was born in 1936 in Hiroshima and now lives in Okayama. In recent years, he says, the loss in rapid succession of his parents, his brother, a good friend, and his beloved cat has made him think about roads that diverge. Each of the intersections pictured in these photographs had its unique aspect. Only one image was in color -- because, according to Suzuki, a red shrine gate appeared in it. Even as he passes the age of 80, his supple approach and creative powers seem unabated.
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Exhibition of Shinkai Makoto
11 November - 18 December 2017
The National Art Center, Tokyo
(Tokyo)
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An exhaustive look at the filmmaking career of animation artist, writer and director Shinkai, from his debut Voices of a Distant Star to his recent megahit Your Name. Besides production materials and art related to each of his major films, the exhibits extended to commercials, short stories and other works by Shinkai as well as his influence abroad and the books that influenced him. A highlight was the stunning density of his 40-layer animation paintings.
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Toshiya Watanabe: Somewhere not Here

4 November - 3 December 2017

Poetic Scape
(Tokyo)
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Fukushima-born Watanabe's series "Somewhere not Here" consists of monochrome photographs he has taken since 2010. Where his previous output cast a serene eye on everyday life, these works bring into relief an ambiguous quality that flits in and out of view in the deeper recesses of the quotidian. Each image is autonomous, telling its own story, but it would be interesting to have a text linking these narratives together.
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Haruto Hoshi: Whistle
28 November - 10 December 2017
Third District Gallery
(Tokyo)
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Plenty of photographers specialize in street snapshots, but Hoshi's recent efforts in the genre stand out. With his move away from monochrome to color one senses greater presence and objectivity in his work. The sinister vibe that oozes from his idiosyncratic subjects is nothing to sneeze at, but what sets Hoshi apart is that he doesn't affect an air of detachment, but strikes a sublime balance between pitilessness and empathy.
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