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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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Shozo Otake: Anthology of a Certain Photographer
29 August - 22 September 2018
Kiyoyuki Kuwabara AG
(Tokyo)
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Returning to Japan from China at the end of World War II in 1945, Otake (1920-2015) first took a job as a photographer with the press section of General MacArthur's GHQ. He went on to distinguish himself with portraits of women and of famous musicians around the world. The 20-odd prints making up this show primarily feature female models photographed overseas. Shozo's daughter Ayumi Otake, also a photographer, developed the prints and provided a set of 13 lenses used by her father.
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Ayaka Yamamoto: We Are Made of Grass, Soil, and Trees
25 August - 29 September 2018
Taka Ishii Gallery Photography / Film
(Tokyo)
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This was Yamamoto's first solo show in four years. Known for shooting portraits of young women in foreign countries where she can only communicate through gestures and "pre-linguistic" sounds, Yamamoto says that during the sessions this time she instead peppered her subjects with questions about the meaning of their name, the dreams they had, and so on in an effort to get a sense of their inner character. And indeed, these portraits seem somehow more precise and profound than her previous work.
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Katsuhito Nakazato: Night in Earth

3 - 15 September 2018
Gallery Kobo
(Tokyo)
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Photographer Nakazato's latest presentation filled all three of Gallery Kobo's exhibit spaces. The titular series depicts Japan's volcanic seacoasts under the light of the moon. First introduced at the same gallery in 2016 as Planet: Night in Earth, this sequel expands the geographic range of the series from the Kii Peninsula to Shikoku, Kyushu, and the Sea of Japan.
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Yoho Tsuda: Early works in the 1950s and 1960s
25 August - 9 September 2018
MEM
(Tokyo)
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Tsuda (1923-2014) hailed from Nara and in 1949 joined the Naniwa Photography Club in nearby Osaka. The country's oldest amateur photo club, the NPC was at the vanguard of Japanese avant-garde photography before the war. Though Tsuda remains best known for his images of trees, water and other natural phenomena, in the early postwar years he focused on buildings and landscapes still bearing fresh scars from the war. This was also when he settled on his powerful style of high-contrast monochrome photography.
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Kikuji Kawada: 100 Illusions
31 August - 11 October 2018
Canon Gallery S
(Tokyo)
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Kawada (b. 1933) is associated with an intensity of photographic expression dominated by shades of black. For this show, Canon Gallery S was transformed into a black box in which 100 framed large-size prints were hung. The exhibition centered around two series: Los Caprichos from the 1970s and The Last Cosmology, begun in the 1980s. Though he turned 85 this year, Kawada shows no signs of slowing down and his work remains full of youthful vigor.
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Tile, Small Shrines and Tourism, Season 5
17 August - 2 September 2018
Gallery PARC
(Kyoto)
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Two artists team up to study the tile-covered little shrines that appear here and there in Kyoto. Ken Tanimoto, a manga artist and designer, collects and studies sightseeing pennants, while Yuta Nakamura creates and researches tiles and ceramics as examples of crafts associated with folkways and architecture. This installation brought together several fields on the periphery of art: street observation, ethnology, folk religion, tourism, and the history of tile -- originally a Western construction material -- since its introduction in Japan.
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Hanae Utamura: Holiday at War
3 - 26 August 2018
Shiseido Gallery
(Tokyo)
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The ongoing theme of Utamura's work is the surmounting of differences in nationality, race, and culture so that the experiences and memories of the "other" are not merely treated as isolated symbols, but physically experienced and shared by the viewer. In this installation a three-meter-square black cube sits in the middle of the gallery, projecting texts that lead visitors on a walking circuit through which they physically identify with the imagined narrator.
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Hospitale Project
2012 -
Yokota Hospital
(Tottori)
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Since 2012 the Hospitale Project has utilized the former Yokota Hospital in downtown Tottori City to implement a variety of art-related programs. The unique circular building, a three-story reinforced concrete structure that dates back to 1956, is divided into a series of small fan-shaped rooms, which several artists are invited each year to use for open studios, artist-in-residence work, lectures, performances and other events.
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Shinya Arimoto: ariphoto vol. 32

4 - 16 September 2018

Totem Pole Photo Gallery
(Tokyo)
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Run by a group of photographers that includes Arimoto (b. 1971), this Shinjuku gallery has long played host to his ariphoto series of shows, which since 2010 have annually yielded a large A3-sized photo book, ariphoto selection. This, the 32nd installment of the series and purportedly the last, featured snapshots taken in 6 x 6 format of Shinjuku's hardcore denizens, a favorite Arimoto theme. The vitality of his subjects radiates from these images like heat.
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Keizo Motoda: Goiken-Muyo
15 September - 14 October 2018
MEM
(Tokyo)
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Osaka-born photographer Motoda (b. 1977) is arguably the true heir to the legendary Daido Moriyama in his fierce devotion to the street snapshot. Unlike Moriyama, however, he likes to aim his shutter at "people who stand out in the crowd because of their unique aura and original outlook on life." His photos, too, have a distinct aura, a tension like that of a bird of prey swooping down on his next meal.
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