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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 3 September 2018
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Taro Okamoto in the Town - The World of Public Art
14 July - 24 September 2018
Taro Okamoto Museum of Art
(Kanagawa)
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This overview of Okamoto's public art marks the reopening of his Tower of the Sun at the former site of Expo '70 in Osaka. Featured are models, plans, sketches and photos of the many works he created for public spaces throughout Japan, from early mosaic-tile constructions to still-standing pieces like the monumental mural Myth of Tomorrow that adorns Tokyo's Shibuya Station.

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Exhibition of Kawai Kanjiro
7 July - 16 September 2018
Panasonic Shiodome Museum
(Tokyo)
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Built around the collection of Kawai Kanjiro's House, the Kyoto museum and former residence of one of Japan's most celebrated ceramists, this examination of Kawai's oeuvre also includes the first public showing in Japan of Yamaguchi University's Kawai collection. Augmented by displays of the artist's wood carvings, writings, and furnishings, the show highlights his deeply spiritual side and testifies to the power, dignity, and humanity of his work.

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Mineko Orisaku: Beauty of permanence and transience

13 - 22 July 2018

Wako Hall
(Tokyo)
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Orisaku's photographic art brims with original touches, such as printing the images on gold or platinum foil, or on layers of acrylic sheet. Says the artist, "Photography is more vulnerable to environmental changes than sculpture or painting, calling its durability as art into question. But with the help of advanced technology I have been able to print on materials like gold and platinum foil, so I hope these works can be enjoyed for a long time." Interestingly, her subjects are flowers, those most ephemeral of life forms.

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Tatsuya Hirabayashi: White Flower (Desire is cause of all thing)

18 - 24 July 2018

Nikon Plaza Ginza
(Tokyo)

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The titular work is one of the new pieces in this show by photographer Hirabayashi. His camera of choice, the single-lens Vest Pocket Kodak, first arrived in Japan in 1912 and became a favorite of amateur "art" photographers, both for its low price and for the soft-focus effect achieved by opening the aperture. Hirabayashi's work may be said to be a revival of the "Vest Pocket Kodak Style" that featured largely in Japanese art photography into the twenties.

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Monster Exhibition 2018
21 - 25 July 2018
Shibuya Hikarie Court 8
(Tokyo)
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Issuing a call for videos, paintings, sculptures and graphics on the theme of monsters, this annual show (which takes place both in Tokyo and abroad) offers an entertaining challenge to participating artists and unexpected thrills to visitors, who get to encounter talented creators like Buddha-sculptor Joan Nishi, who spent a year carving a seven-meter Buddha directly into the trunk of a living tree outside a public bathhouse in suburban Tokyo.
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Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone - Take your time, it won't be long now

7 July - 10 August 2018

Taka Ishii Gallery Photography / Film
(Tokyo)
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A photo exhibition by Yoshitomo Nara, better known as one of Japan's best-selling contemporary painters. Until now his fascination with photography has been a well-kept secret, but it seems he has been wielding a camera since his teen years, before he became a serious artist. Viewing the works on display at Taka Ishii, it's easy to see how these snapshots may even provide inspiration for his more public creative endeavors.
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Layerscape: Teruhiro Yanagihara Exhibition
4 July - 7 August 2018
Creation Gallery G8
(Tokyo)
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Designer Yanagihara speaks of his fundamental intent to "design the situation of designing." This show was an experiment in seeing what situations arise from particular gatherings of people, objects, and spaces. The first gallery contained a number of hanging sheets of paper printed with photos of human figures from the knees up, deliberately shot out of focus. As visitors wove their way among these hazy portraits, they co-generated a mix of virtual and real images.
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Jomon: 10,000 Years of Prehistoric Art in Japan
3 July - 2 September 2018
Tokyo National Museum
(Tokyo)
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On the theme of "Jomon beauty", this show brought together masterpieces from all stages of Japan's neolithic Jomon Era, unearthed in diverse locations throughout the archipelago. Of some 200 pieces on display, six are National Treasures. The sophistication of technique and depth of feeling that went into these works have a powerful, sometimes overwhelming impact on the viewer. Consider, too, that the Jomon culture was a "surge of beauty" lasting over ten thousand years.
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Tomoo Gokita: PEEKABOO
4 April - 24 June 2018
Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery
(Tokyo)
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This solo show assembled paintings from the past decade, with an emphasis on Gokita's most recent output. All were monochrome portraits that reference photos published in the USA around a half-century ago, though as paintings they looked very casually rendered. A quirky highlight was Gokita Records with its record jacket-styled portraits of professional wrestlers of yesteryear.
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Nananano: My Aesthetic Feeling 2018
29 June - 15 July 2018

Jimbocho Gallery
(Tokyo)

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Since 2015, model Nananano has been shooting and exhibiting her own photographs. After some initial self-portraits, in 2016 she began experimenting with "group nude" tableaux, recruiting her models via social network services. This recent solo outing, her fourth at the Jimbocho Gallery, demonstrates a marked evolution in the creativeness of her "group nude" concept over the past year or two.
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