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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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Toshihisa Fudezuka
11 - 26 February 2017
Art Zone Kaguraoka
(Kyoto)
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Active since the 1980s, printmaker Fudezuka is known for his surehanded technique. This show featured both his recent copperplate engravings with rain as a motif, as well as earlier cloud-motif oil prints. Apparently it was the gallery owner's clever idea to display the clouds on the second floor and the rain pieces on the ground floor below.
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Hiroshi Soga Exhibition
14 - 23 February 2017
LADS Gallery
(Osaka)
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This reviewer was unfamiliar with Soga and was overwhelmed by the peculiar power of his work. He uses string to divide the supporting medium into an irregular grid, to which he affixes bits of Japanese fabric, paint, and text. Born in 1958, Soga lives in Gujo Hachiman, Gifu Prefecture. An encounter with the avant-garde Gutai artist Shozo Shimamoto inspired him to become an artist himself; this was his first solo show in the Osaka region.
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Tomoya Watanabe: Trust and Achievements

7 - 29 January 2017
Artzone
(Kyoto)
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Watanabe delights in restoring objects of no perceivable value, creating reproductions of the irreproducible and iterations of the uniterable. Toward these dubious ends he applies state-of-the-art digital fabrication technology and prodigious amounts of time and effort that border on the futile. His cutting-edge media and techniques are employed in the service of reminding us -- with a healthy dollop of humor -- just how flimsy the foundations of our trust in such things really are.
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Mayuko Sato: "The phantom covered with desires - Yokaiyokumamire"
31 January - 17 February 2017
Guardian Garden
(Tokyo)
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This solo show was Sato's prize for winning the 14th 1_WALL Photography Competition in 2016. Some critics wondered if her seemingly nonchalant approach to composition would stand up to scrutiny on a gallery wall, but the exhibition proved a winner as well. Sato's conception masterfully treads the fine line between freedom and lassitude, always maintaining an exquisite distance between her camera and her subjects.
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Hitomi Sato: Iguana Boy
3 - 19 February 2017
Jimbocho Gallery
(Tokyo)
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A unique pet-photo series featuring the iguana that has become a full-fledged member of Sato's family. The photographer explains that the animal joined the four-member household when they won it in a drawing at a summer festival. Small enough at first to fit in the palm of the hand, the pale-green reptile has grown to 1.5 meters in the intervening 13 years. Life in a condo with a big iguana is a situation rich with possibilities, both surreal and humorous, that Sato exploits to excellent effect.
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Takashi Arai: Bright Was the Morning
28 January - 26 February 2017
Yokohama Civic Art Gallery Azamino
(Kanagawa)
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Arai has long dedicated himself to the daguerreotype, the world's first practical photographic process, but did not enter the public eye until he won the prestigious Kimura Ihei Award in 2016. Arai uses the anachronistic technology to create what he calls "micro-monuments" to bygone events on the verge of being forgotten. The result here was an installation of moving and often unnerving imagery.
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Akihisa Hirata Architecture Exhibition
7 February - 5 March 2017
Art Museum & Library, Ota
(Gunma)
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One of the first shows at the recently opened museum-library complex in downtown Ota, Gunma Prefecture, featured the work of the architect who designed it. The real exhibit is the complex itself, an artful blend of cube-like structures and greenery that boasts an art museum built to serve as the linchpin of the city center's revival; a library stocked with visually appealing art, architecture, and picture books; and an attractive café. The exhibition, which occupied two of the cubes, included models, films, and detail studies.
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Masayoshi Sukita: SUKITA / M BLOWS UP David Bowie & Iggy Pop
19 January - 6 March 2017
Canon Gallery S
(Tokyo)
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Veteran photographer Sukita (b. 1938) is most often associated with his many famous portraits of the late David Bowie. In this show Bowie is joined by his musical ally Iggy Pop. Big monochrome blow-ups of the two icons march coolly and confidently across the gallery walls, oozing the attitude and tension of a classic rock 'n' roll photo shoot.
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Nobuaki Onishi: Irreplaceable Replacement

29 January - 13 February 2017

gallery21yo-j
(Tokyo)
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Unlikely objects, all in pairs, adorn the gallery: two blue plastic construction sheets sagging against the wall, two plumb-bobs hanging from the ceiling, two rusted iron poles, and so on. Mystifyingly, the creases, scratches, and rust marks on each pair are identical -- yet they are neither two originals, nor an original and a copy. Turns out that in every case, both items are painted FRP replicas cast from a mold of the same object. Perhaps this interest in duplication is not so surprising, given that Onishi started out as a printmaker before turning to sculpture.
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Photo-Secession 竇。: Non-Ethics of Photography - Distance and Viewpoint
9 February - 26 March 2017
NADiff Gallery
(Tokyo)
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Three photographers born in 1963 (Ryudai Takano, Taiji Matsue, and Risaku Suzuki), joined by two critics (Minoru Shimizu and Shino Kuraishi), launched their "Photo-Secession Faction" in 2010. Since then they have relentlessly pursued a fundamental reassessment of the expressive potential of photography. Though their approaches are wildly divergent, they share a concern with the issues of distance and angle of view alluded to in the show's subtitle.
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