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image image Born to Design: The Legacy of Shichiro Imatake
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Christopher Stephens
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As a future graphic designer, Shichiro Imatake couldn't have picked a better place (Kobe) or time (1905) to be born. Located in western Japan, the port city of Kobe would soon become known for cultural imports like jazz and film, and having only reopened to the outside world in 1868, the country as a whole was in the midst of reinventing itself through rapid modernization. In this respect Shichiro Imatake: Pioneer of Japanese Modern Design (running through 6 December at the Otani Memorial Art Museum, Nishinomiya City, just a few kilometers east of Kobe), a retrospective of Imatake's career, serves as a handy overview of modern art and design in the 20th century as well as of major social trends in Japan. more...

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image image The Beauty of Ainu Handiwork at the Japan Folk Crafts Museum
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Susan Rogers Chikuba
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Twenty-four river stones click and clack softly as they dangle from the warp threads of the rush mat Etsuko Hori is weaving in Hirakawa, Hokkaido. "I love that sound," she says of her loom weights. Around her sit piles of dried cattail blades, linden-bark fibers (some she has dyed black and red), and fine linden twine that she has twisted herself -- she'll use 100 meters of it to make a single 1.4-meter mat. As she works, even stray cattail fibers do not go to waste; she sets them aside to make string later. Hori's creative process, and that of other present-day Ainu artisans featured in the "Hands and Hearts" video series produced by the Foundation for Ainu Culture, offers welcome context to the late-18th and 19th-century heritage works on display in The Beauty of Ainu Handiwork, an exhibition now showing at the Japan Folk Crafts Museum (Nihon Mingeikan) in Tokyo through 23 November. more...

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image image Chimeras for Our Times: Masatake Kozaki at Art Front Gallery
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Alan Gleason
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Masatake Kozaki's new exhibition MUGEN, at the Art Front Gallery in Daikanyama, Tokyo, comes four years after his last show there. His signature style remains fundamentally unchanged -- wild, surrealistic montages of the hybrid creatures he calls "chimeras" against backgrounds inhabited by motifs ranging from Buddhas and kokeshi dolls to insects, nudes, musical instruments and rocket ships. Also familiar is his use of gold leaf and cloud-like formations that evoke Yamato-e paintings on Edo-period folding screens. more...

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Recent Articles
FOCUS
Born to Design: The Legacy of Shichiro Imatake
Christopher Stephens
2 November 2020
FOCUS
The Beauty of Ainu Handiwork at the Japan Folk Crafts Museum
Susan Rogers Chikuba
2 November 2020
HERE/THERE
Chimeras for Our Times: Masatake Kozaki at Art Front Gallery
Alan Gleason
2 November 2020
PICKS
Reading Ornamentation: Rediscovering the Architecture of Nihonbashi
2 November 2020
FOCUS
2020 Vision at KYOTOGRAPHIE, Kyoto's International Photography Festival
Colin Smith
1 October 2020
FOCUS
Connection to the Earth: A New Art Space Envisioned by Architect Kengo Kuma
James Lambiasi
1 October 2020
HERE/THERE
Vertical Landscapes: Shintaro Tanaka at the Ichihara Lakeside Museum
Alan Gleason
1 October 2020
PICKS
MANGA ⇔ TOKYO
1 October 2020
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