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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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The Legacy of Expo '70
25 March - 4 July 2017
Expo '70 Pavilion
(Osaka)
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A special exhibition on the theme of pavilion architecture at the Japan World Exposition, held in Osaka in 1970. Fittingly, the show occupies the Expo '70 Pavilion, one of the few surviving structures from the event (when it was known as the Steel Pavilion). Japan's, and indeed Asia's, first world's fair, Expo '70 celebrated the nation's recovery from World War II and took place at the zenith of its postwar economic boom.

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Spaceship: Susumu Shingu
18 March - 7 May 2017
Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art
(Hyogo)
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This is the largest solo exhibition to date by sculptor Shingu (b. 1937), based in Sanda, Hyogo Prefecture and globally recognized for his mobile works powered by wind, water, and other natural energy sources. In this show he treats the Tadao Ando-designed museum as a giant spaceship, which he has populated with 15 new sculptures as well as videos, maquettes, picture books and more.
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"Athlete"

17 February - 4 June 2017

21_21 Design Sight
(Tokyo)
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A novel attempt to dissect, from a design perspective, the concept of the athlete in all its facets as a paradigm of tireless effort and repeated trial and error in the service of exceeding personal limitations, and as a model for endeavors in other arenas of human activity. Videos, photographs, and interactive exhibits examine the dynamics of physical and mental self-discipline, the latest tactical data analysis technologies, and sports gear as an extension of the human body.
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Yayoi Kusama: My Eternal Soul

22 February - 22 May 2017

The National Art Center, Tokyo
(Tokyo)

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A grand retrospective of the grand dame of avant-garde art. The first half of the show introduces her recent My Eternal Soul series, then revisits her earliest work from the 1940s and '50s and the transition to more variegated modes of expression in the '60s following her relocation to the U.S. The second half takes up the '70s collages she made after returning to Japan, and her subsequent work of the '80s and '90s. Kusama's new works represent a free intermingling of three pervasive elements of her oeuvre: hallucinations, repetition, and pop-art motifs.
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Parody and Intertextuality: Visual Culture in Japan around the 1970s
18 February - 16 April 2017
Tokyo Station Gallery
(Tokyo)
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This look at parody in postwar Japanese art begins with sixties artists like Ushio Shinohara, Genpei Akasegawa, Tadanori Yokoo, Koichi (Tiger) Tateishi, and others associated with the Neo Dada and Hi-Red Center groups. The sixties avant-garde was known for its blistering social critiques, but with the defeat of the movement against the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty in 1970, that critical spirit receded as well. Judging by this show, the eighties heralded a reconciliation with the mainstream art scene on the part of the parodists.
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Bringing Falsetto to Song

8 April - 18 June 2017

Kurumaya Museum of Art
(Tochigi)
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A group exhibition curated by Mizuki Endo, planner of a project to reconstruct the late Osamu Kokufu's post-tsunami work Engine in the Water. As part of the project, this show brings together contemporary works on the themes of sound and voice by Kokufu, Shun Owada, Teppei Saotome, and Yukari Motoyama. Events range from a local middle-school choral competition to a display of kimonos decorated with images of Mt. Fuji and fighter planes.
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Teiko Kobatake: Painting through Hardship
14 January - 26 February 2017
Kichijoji Art Museum
(Tokyo)
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Nihonga painter Kobatake (1898-1964), a member of mentor Ryushi Kawabata's Seiryu-sha group, lived her entire adult life in the western Tokyo suburb of Kichijoji, painting while simultaneously raising children and running a household. This exhibition showcased some 20 restored works selected from a collection donated to Kobatake's hometown by her family. Though modest in scale, the show provided a solid overview of her oeuvre.
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Nobuhiro Hanaoka: Careful Discrepancy
4 February - 12 March 2017
Mori Yu Gallery
(Kyoto)
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Sculptor Hanaoka adorns his wood carvings with collages of scrap wood, fabric, clothing and printed matter. The works are never "finished," but designed for alteration over time. In his blithe rejection of such notions as completion and permanance dictated by the nature of sculpture and the norms of art in general, Hanaoka is plowing new fields of creative expression.
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Yumiko Yamashita: White Figure
9 - 26 February 2017
+1art
(Osaka)
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At first glance, Yamashita's works appear to be made of paper -- or any material but porcelain. They look thin, light, ephemeral. She creates these delicate objects by gluing layers of washi paper or fabric, then coating them with clay the consistency of mud and firing them. The paper or cloth burns away, leaving only the clay. This challenging technique seems ripe with potential for further development.
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baby tooth: Tidings #2
10 - 13 February 2017

ST Spot
(Kanagawa)

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In this sequel to their Tidings, first performed in March 2016, the duo of Megumi Kamimura and Michiko Tsuda have introduced a new unit name, "baby tooth." The theme is "things unseen," the aim being to render those things visible through the performers' engagement with them. One intriguing aspect of the work is their treatment of it as a "discipline" rather than a means to an end.
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