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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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Naohiro Udagawa: Assembly
5 - 23 January 2017
QUIET NOISE arts and break
(Tokyo)
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Up-and-coming photographer Udagawa has been busy of late, forming the performance-art unit Spew with fellow photographers Daisuke Yokota and Koji Kitagawa in 2016, publishing a zine, and exhibiting and selling the group's prints. Here, however, he struck out on his own with a solo display of prints in an installation format that highlighted the idiosyncratic poetics of his work.
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Tomoko Arakawa: tsubo
7 - 15 January 2017
Kunst Arzt
(Kyoto)
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The wood sculptures Arakawa presented here brought to mind ritual objects symbolizing folk deities, talismans, and genitalia. All were covered with hair, ranging from long black wigs to what resembled stubbly body hair. Accompanying these were a number of ceramic "hairy urns" with surfaces entirely covered in false eyelashes. By thus likening these surfaces to human skin, Arakawa foregrounded the generally ignored element of tactility in sculpture surfaces.
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Ami Yamasaki: re:verb / re:cite

17 December 2016 - 22 January 2017
Kyoto Art Center
(Kyoto)
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Yamasaki's primary medium is her voice, which she employs in multifaceted ways, but she is also a video and visual artist. This exhibition had two parts: re:verb, an installation in which multiple recordings of Yamasaki's voice reverberated from different spatial positions, and re:cite, a musical performance for voice, sho (a traditional reed instrument), and cello. In both events, the boundary between the human voice and the voices of nature seemed to melt away.
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Marie Yoshiki: Living Room
17 January - 4 February 2017
Sai Gallery
(Osaka)
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Yoshiki strategically piles up multiple layers of ink to produce silkscreen prints that confront us with the disparity between data (images reduced to two dimensions) and substance (ink layers output in three dimensions). The thick textures of the ink vie with the spatial order of our perception of depth in the picture plane. A streak of violence lies hidden in these superficially delicate works, which dismantle our trust in the sense of sight.
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Tsutomu Yamagata: Ten Disciples
17 December 2016 - 4 February 2017
Zen Foto Gallery
(Tokyo)
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Photographer Yamagata began shooting his latest series in 2011 at Tamagawa Hot Springs in the northern prefecture of Akita. While researching alternative treatments for his cancer-stricken father, he learned of this remote valley where cancer patients go in hopes of a cure from the hot water and radiation-emitting rocks. He began frequenting the place and capturing images of its visitors and landscape, which he says reminded him of paintings in which the Buddha, on the verge of entering Nirvana, lies surrounded by his ten disciples.
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Rieko Honma / Yasunori Murayama: raison d'テェtre
21 - 29 January 2017
BankART Studio NYK
(Kanagawa)
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This joint undertaking is the product of an encounter between photographers Honma and Murayama two years ago, when they realized their works shared much in common. The title reflects a mutual desire to "advance one step at a time by rethinking our role in society, the reasons why we take photographs, the reasons for art." One looks forward to a step-by-step evolution in the content of their work in future shows.
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Yumiko Sugano
23 January - 10 February 2017
Galerie Tokyo Humanité
(Tokyo)
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About a decade ago, oil painter Sugano began exhibiting serene still lifes of tableware. Whereas those earlier works were simple compositions of dishes arranged in a row, her new ones are complex, Escher-like affairs. The objects sit on labyrinthine arrays of shelves, or float in space devoid of a background. More than simply placing vessels in a space, she seems to be focusing on the larger "vessel" of the space itself. Ultimately, however, space is invisible and unpaintable, so the eye returns to the objects therein.
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Saburo Ota: Print Works
12 - 31 January 2017
Gallery Natsuka & Cross View Arts
(Tokyo)
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Five shelves along the wall are lined with sheets of paper in a variety of colors, 200 in all. The sequence appears random at first, but in fact the sheets are arranged in alphabetical order, by the English name of each color. Every letter is represented, including Q and X, which do not correspond to any color names. As we shuttle back and forth between the colors and our expectations, we find ourselves pondering anew our assumptions about color in the things we look at.
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Yuriko Terazaki: Arks for Learning

21 January - 24 February 2017

Gallery Koyanagi
(Tokyo)
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Terazaki's pencil drawings depict the patina of time on handmade objects: the traces of the creators and of those who held and cherished their handiwork. Her latest series portrays libraries. Shelves of old books can be dimly discerned in the recesses of a darkened room. The globe in the foreground turns out to be a celestial globe -- the cosmos in miniature. One can sense the presence of people who were moved to contemplate the universe in that solemn atmosphere.
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2D x 3D: Latest Works (Yutokutaishi Akiyama + Tatsuo Ikeda + Shintaro Tanaka + Tatsumi Yoshino)
23 January - 4 February 2017
Gallery 58
(Tokyo)
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A group show by four prominent postwar artists whose average age now exceeds 80. Akiyama is represented by his usual tin sculptures and reliefs, Tanaka by his usual humorous minimalist drawings, Ikeda by his usual meticulous acrylic paintings. Only Yoshino brings something fresh to the table with his sculpture of a dog whose head is pierced by a red chili pepper and his close-up drawings of a dog's eye, ear, mouth, nose, and footpad, which he says represent the five senses.
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