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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.

1 July 2014
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Nostalgia and Fantasy: Imagination and Its Origins in Contemporary Art
27 May - 15 September 2014
The National Museum of Art, Osaka
(Osaka)
Accessing nostalgia as a trigger for the imagination and the weaving of fantasies into entire worlds is ostensibly what these contemporary artists have in common: Tadanori Yokoo, Yoshihisa Kitatsuji, Hitoshi Karasawa, Koji Tanada, Yukiko Suto, Keisuke Yamamoto, Toshiyuki Konishi, Yosuke Kobashi, Sai Hashizume, and the art unit Yodogawa Technique.

Sato Tokihiro: Presence or Absence

13 May - 13 July 2014
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
(Tokyo)
Forming a nicely balanced retrospective of Sato's career from the 1980s up to the present, these images demonstrate the degree to which he has put some distance between conventional photographic expression and his own aspirations. Besides his series of time-lapse exposures of landscapes festooned with penlight trails and mirror-reflected points of light, this show features more recent work with pinhole cameras and a mobile camera obscura.
The Spiritual World: Collection Exhibition 2014

13 May - 13 July 2014

Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
(Tokyo)

The museum assembles images from its collection, by photographers of diverse generations and intentions, under the "spiritual world" rubric -- i.e., works that, in the curators' words, occasion " a renewed receptivity to invisible and transcendent possibilities." (For an in-depth review, see the June 2014 edition of "Here and There.")
Go-Betweens: The World Seen through Children

31 May - 31 August 2014

Mori Art Museum
(Tokyo)

Children as a motif in contemporary art: interestingly, most of the works assembled for this show are photographs or videos. Perhaps those are the optimal media for capturing kids in all their multifaceted aspects, or perhaps artists who portray kids are themselves a multifaceted lot. What lingered after a viewing were not images of cuteness or innocence, but more sublime evocations of loneliness, eroticism, and paths trod precariously on the border between life and death.
Yuki Hayashi: A Garden of Light and Another House

21 June - 13 July 2014

Kobe Art Village Center
(Hyogo)
Hayashi is already known for his animated works, made by cutting, pasting, and collaging original images with others culled from the Internet. For 500 yen, those who fill out a questionnaire can purchase "Another House" designed to their specifications and become residents of the "Garden of Light." Thus the artist poses some questions about the relationship between virtual spaces and the real world.
 
Windowology Exhibition "Windowscape"

31 May - 15 June 2014

Tokyo Midtown Design Hub
(Tokyo)
For its "windowology" project, the Tsukamoto Lab at Tokyo Institute of Technology has surveyed windows all over the world. This show combines the fruits of that research with content that conveys the pleasure of touring the locales seen through those apertures, and for good measure adds an installation by Atelier Bow-Wow -- a "kaleido-window" it set up in a courtyard at the Milano Salone this year.
 
Kyoichi Tsuzuki: Single Senior Style

3 May - 1 June 2014

Nadiff Gallery
(Tokyo)
The second of two consecutive exhibitions by maverick photographer Tsuzuki depicting "outsider" senior citizens and their innovatively solitary lifestyles, this selection focuses on artists with some name recognition. Perhaps for that reason, the creative endeavors we see here seem rather more accomplished than those by the "amateurs" introduced in the first series.
 
Naka-Boso International Art Festival Ichihara Art x Mix

21 March - 11 May 2014

Itabu Station, Kominato Line
(Chiba)
This was the inaugural edition of what promises to be a trienniale held along the Kominato Railway, which runs through the bucolic central Boso Peninsula. The outstanding architectural contribution was Sou Fujimoto's Toilet in Nature, which covered considerably more acreage than the adjacent tiny unmanned platform of Itabu Station. The toilet sat in a transparent glass box inside a large ring built around a tree already growing on the premises. Verily, a toilet in nature, and typical of Fujimoto's sense of humor.
Paradise Garden
11 April - 4 May 2014
MA2 Gallery
(Tokyo)
Of the works by three artists in this joint show -- Takahiro Iwasaki, Ryuta Iida, and Aki Eimizu -- Iwasaki's are particularly imaginative. They include a ten-centimeter tower constructed of human hair, bookmark ribbons unraveled and woven into the shape of an industrial crane, and a hanging wooden model of a vertically mirrored symmetrical structure that appears to be the ancient Byodo-in temple, combined with its reflection in the pond that surrounds it. Every one of these works has its own peculiar impact.
Rinko Kawauchi + Terri Weifenbach: Gift
27 April - 22 June 2014

IMA gallery
(Tokyo)

Photographers Kawauchi (based in Tokyo) and Weifenbach (in Washington, D.C.) began an e-mail correspondence in 2011 that has culminated in this alternating exhibit of their works. However, one does not sense much in the way of resonance or synergy between their respective worlds. Most of these are small prints imbued with a gentle, wavering quality, but not the dynamism inherent in each artist.
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