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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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Eriko Masaoka: Water drying in the space of a flutter
7 - 18 December 2016
Tokyo Institute of Photography 72 Gallery
(Tokyo)
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Winner of last year's Grand Prix in the Red Brick Gallery Portfolio Audition held every summer at the Higashikawa International Photo Festival, Masaoka has worked continuously on this series for over ten years. With their uncanny intensity, these monochrome snapshots of her immediate surroundings hint at an animistic worldview.
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Kumagusuku: Attraction
3 - 25 December 2016
Site-A Gallery
(Kanagawa)
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Kumagusuku is a hostelry opened by artist Yoshitaka Yazu in Kyoto in 2015. Or rather, it's an art space where you can stay overnight: a fusion of installation and hotel. For this presentation Yazu teamed up with artists based in Yokohama's Koganecho district. As a means of appreciating artworks one person at a time, the art-hotel concept can't be beat.
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Ayano Sudo: Shiny Thorns

9 November - 10 December 2016
Tanizaki Junichiro Memorial Museum of Literature, Ashiya
(Hyogo)
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Known for portraits that evoke the unisex characters that abound in girls' manga, as well as other young women aspiring to metamorphosis, Sudo won the Canon New Cosmos of Photography Grand Prix in 2014 with Gespenster, a series in which she impersonates 16 missing girls. Here she offers six images of herself as the four sisters of novelist Tanizaki's masterpiece The Makioka Sisters. Augmenting the images with objects belonging to Tanizaki as well as her own grandmother's kimonos and accessories, Sudo creates her own interpretation of modernism and the contemporary woman.
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Hasui Kawase on the 70th Anniversary of Ota City
9 October - 25 December 2016
Ota City Folk Museum
(Tokyo)
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One of Tokyo's 23 central wards, Ota City celebrates its 70th anniversary this year with an exhibition of a favorite son, woodblock print artist Hasui Kawase (1883-1957). Out of the museum's collection of some 500 Kawase prints, the curators have chosen to display 80 from Hasui's last decade, which dovetailed with the first decade of the ward's existence, 1947 to 1957. Seeing as Kawase's best-known works were produced earlier, however, it's a rather curious choice of periods.
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Denjiro Ide: The Legendary Hibiki Photo Studio
7 - 27 December 2016
Kanzan Gallery
(Tokyo)
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After mastering the techniques of portrait photography, Ide (1891-1962) opened a studio in Nagasaki in 1925. On the occasion of his granddaughter Chie Nemoto's publication of her book Nagasaki's Legendary Hibiki Photography Studio: Denjiro Ide and His Eight Siblings, this show introduces new prints made from some 1,300 dry plates left behind by the photographer, as well as albums and other documents.
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Kazumi Kurigami: Lonesome Day Blues
25 November 2016 - 16 January 2017
Canon Gallery S
(Tokyo)
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Veteran commercial photographer and cinematographer Kurigami (b. 1936) likes to keep his eyes in shape, he says, by snapping what he sees around him on a daily basis. The fruits of this habit appear in this show, which features summer scenes of Tokyo's Shibuya district. More tangible than visual, the ambience Kurigami captures is of a neighborhood that has become transnational, resembling those in other metropolises worldwide that share a new and rapidly spreading global urban culture.
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Sayaka Miyata: Urahara no Ito (Contrary Threads)
10 - 25 December 2016
Gallery PARC
(Kyoto)
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Miyata sews both by hand and machine to produce her embroidery art. A computerized sewing machine allows her to deliberately introduce bugs into imported image data, generating unforeseen results. New works here include a three-piece series using MRIs of her own head as a motif, as well as others based on the thorax and vertebrae. Though nominally weavings, these are stand-alone forms that require no cloth substrate, and hence share something in common with prints, photographs, and even sculpture.
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Natsuko Tanihara: I Embrace the Dark
13 - 25 December 2016
galerie 16
(Kyoto)
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A solo show of new works by Tanihara. Bewitching yet sinister, these paintings link her private negativities and resentments to the social problems of the world outside. Perhaps the splendiferous aspect of the images is intended as a means of soothing the wounded heart? Though there are plenty of artists who wear their inner turmoil on their sleeves, few are as intensely idiosyncratic as Tanihara.
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Yasuka Goto: The Patch of Despair

16 December 2016 - 21 January 2017

Kyoto Seika University Gallery Fleur
(Kyoto)
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Goto is known for mangaesque artwork employed in the service of relating the war experiences of her grandfather, great-uncle, and other family members. Though devoid of the expressive grammar of manga, her work reveals a strong affinity for the medium in its exaggerated perspectives, deformed composition, subjects' pronounced facial features, and vigorous penstrokes. Its impact stems not so much from the war memories themselves as from the use of manga techniques to transmit them.
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Nobuo Shimose: Pointing at the Moon 竇。
7 - 20 December 2016
Ginza Nikon Salon
(Tokyo)
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Since the 1960s photographer Shimose has constantly held exhibitions and published photo books while running his own studio in the city of Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture. His images are ordinary scenes of his surroundings, but they resonate on a profound level with the greater cosmos. The bright, high-contrast color prints in this latest show are visually stunning, yet they lack the delicacy of his past work. Still, Shimose deserves credit for exploring new means of expression at this point in his long career.
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