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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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Shoji Miyamoto
15 - 30 April 2017
Art Zone Kaguraoka
(Kyoto)
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Woodcut artist Miyamoto made his debut with stunning images of translucent sushi, fruit slices, ice candies and snow cones. His trademark is the keen eye and precise technique he brings to the intrinsic warmth and softness of the woodblock print medium, achieving an exquisite balance between these attributes. This recent show was highlighted by the appearance of collages in which the artist recycled older works.
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Kimiyo Mishima
2 - 28 May 2017
Sokyo
(Kyoto)
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Crumpled newspapers, cartons covered with product logos, wastebaskets filled with empty cans -- veteran sculptor Mishima (b. 1932) is known for ceramic objects that iconify today's consumer society. After a period of increasing international recognition, this was her first solo show in some time on her home turf, the Kansai region. Of special note for its atypically personal content was Film 75', a film-roll-like object silkscreen-printed with 35-mm negatives of her husband.
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Meiro Koizumi: Today My Empire Sings

3 - 11 May 2017
VACANT
(Tokyo)
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Koizumi's forte is the havoc he wreaks on the boundary between reality and fiction in his self-referential video works. The titular video installation shows footage of an anti-imperial system demonstration and the hate speech directed against it, coupled with the underlying motif of a childhood dream in which the artist's father is hauled away by police. Koizumi's sure-footed critical stance has a way of jolting viewers' sensibilities.
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The World of Court Attire
1 April - 27 May 2017
Gakushuin University Museum of History
(Tokyo)
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The original patterns for Japanese imperial court attire came from China, but evolved into styles unique to this country. The tradition was temporarily interrupted by civil war in the 15th century, but resumed when peace and stability returned in the Edo period (1603-1867). Though Western fashions were introduced to the court during the Meiji period (1868-1912), traditional garb is still used today for imperial ceremonies and religious rituals.
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Yoshiyuki Okuyama: The Town Where You Live
27 April - 7 May 2017
Space O, Omotesando Hills B3
(Tokyo)
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Okuyama has won fame by intentionally blurring the lines between commercial and "serious" photography. These prints of Tokyo cityscapes focused on his snapshot series "35 Popular Actresses Photographed with a Polaroid Camera," which ran in the fashion magazine EYESCREAM from March 2014 to November 2016.
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Mount Fuji as Seen through the Eyes of Late Edo/Meiji Period Photographers: In Search of "Heaven on Earth"
13 April - 30 June 2017
Photo History Museum FujiFilm Square
(Tokyo)
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As its frequent appearance in poems, songs, and paintings will attest, Mount Fuji has always had a special place in Japanese hearts. This exhibition brought together images of the iconic mountain by Japanese and equally enamored foreign photographers. Photos by Felice Beato, Kimbei Kusakabe, and Herbert Ponting predominated, but there were also works by Kazumasa Ogawa and Shiro Watanabe, as well as the unusual lacquerwork photographs of Hanbei Mizuno.
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Kawori Inbe: When the Wheel Turns
5 - 21 May 2017
Jinbocho Garou
(Tokyo)
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Inbe is known for her practice of interviewing her female subjects before photographing them, then setting up situations based on the stories they tell. When viewing this exhibition of 13 new and 7 older works, visitors were offered hints from the titles that might spark associations with their own life stories. Inbe has a new photo collection in the works that should be just as inspiring.
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Aya Fujioka: Ayako, and Her Metaphysical Study
9 - 26 May 2017
Guardian Garden
(Tokyo)
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In this mini-retrospective, 69 of Fujioka's photographs were divided into seven sections based on past projects. Particularly captivating was her Tokyo Ghost Tour series from the early 2000s. With one foot in everyday reality and the other in a supernatural netherworld, Fujioka seems to possess the power to call up the dead to inhabit her images.
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Chihiro Murata: internal works

16 - 28 May 2017

Gallery Yuragi
(Kyoto)
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Up to now Murata has been creating her fluid imagery through an original process of soaking batik- or stencil-dyed fabric with water. Here she introduces a new approach that employs digital photographs as a base material. With inkjet-printed images replacing dyes, these works evoke the analog process of photographic development and of memory itself.
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Hana Sawada: Gesture of Rally
30 May - 4 June 2017
Kunst Arzt
(Kyoto)
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Sawada seeks to identify an unknown object captured in a photographic print by copying and enlarging the image, analyzing and verifying it, and replicating it in solid form. The assemblage of photos, texts, and physical objects serves as a means of expanding the punctum of a photograph, breaking it up, and multiplying it into the infinite possibilities of "what might have been" for the past represented by the photo. In this manner she forces us to question the veracity of our perception of the photographed image.
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