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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 current or recent exhibitions at museums and galleries around the country.

Note: As of 1 October, Japan is no longer under a state of emergency. Most museums and galleries are open, but some may still require reservations or have other anti-Covid measures in place. If you are planning a visit, please check the venue's website beforehand.

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image image 1 November 2021
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Wada Makoto
9 October - 19 December 2021
Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery
(Tokyo)
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Though best known for his illustrations, which graced the covers of the weekly Shukan Bunshun for over 40 years, Wada (1936-2019) was a protean creator of borderless talents. Categorizing his life's work into 30 topics, this massive retrospective of his career makes that vividly clear. One unique exhibit is a "visual timeline" illustrating the 83 years of his life on over 20 square columns, each side devoted to events and works of a particular year. A stroll among these columns in sequence is like taking a walking tour of Wada's life.
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Voice-Over: Reverberations of the Museum
18 September - 14 November 2021
Shiga Museum of Art
(Shiga)
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An imaginative showcasing of over 100 works selected from the museum's collections of Nihonga, regional art, contemporary art, and Art Brut. Grouping the works by themes that span the customary divides of genre and period leads to some unexpected encounters, especially in a section of installations in which guest artists or units interact with the collection. Yuichiro Tamura employs "disappearance" and "silence" to paradoxically reveal otherwise invisible correlations between works; Mien Nakao links the physical disappearance of art with the perpetuation of memory; and dot architects envision the functions of the museum itself as a vibrant ecosystem-like network. (For a detailed review, see the October 2021 Focus.)
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Japonism and Art Nouveau: Phases of Japonism in Western Decorative Art

9 October - 19 December 2021
Panasonic Shiodome Museum of Art
(Tokyo)
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Even the experts can't agree on the extent of Japonism's influence on the Art Nouveau movement that spread through Europe at the end of the 19th century. Subtitled "Masterworks from the Collection of the Budapest Museum of Applied Arts," this show focuses on ceramics and glass to trace connections as far back as the pre-Japonism era, and thence to Art Nouveau and Art Deco. What's clear is that Japanese ceramics did indeed exert a profound influence on European arts and crafts of the day.
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Mika Ninagawa: Into Fiction/Reality
16 September - 14 November 2021
Ueno Royal Museum
(Tokyo)
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Ninagawa has lately been branching out from photography into the fields of film, design, and fashion. This exhibition, however, trains the lens on her original medium, finding the essence of her camerawork in the gap between fiction and reality. The culmination of a tour that has taken it to ten different venues nationwide, the Tokyo show adds on videos and an installation that replicates the artist's study, offering visitors a multisensory introduction to Ninagawa's variegated, genre-breaking treatments of our era at its leading edge.
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The Darkness and Dreams of Peter Sis
23 September - 14 November 2021
Nerima Art Museum
(Tokyo)
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Since 1987, the Czech-American writer and illustrator Peter Sis (b. 1949) has produced over 30 picture books; this is the first exhibition of his work in Japan. Some 150 items, ranging from original drawings and his early work in animation to objects, memos, sketches, and journals, comprise a thorough overview of his career to date.
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Beautiful Flowers from the Kew Gardens, Beloved by the British Royal Family
18 September - 28 November 2021
Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum
(Tokyo)
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A look at how natural science and botanical art evolved in England against a historical backdrop of dramatic social transformation and reform. A World Heritage site, the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London are not only one of the world's biggest botanical gardens, but also boast a collection of some 220,000 paintings and drawings -- meticulous, scientifically precise renderings of plants that are at the same time stunningly beautiful. This exhibition grants the viewer a rare opportunity to be surrounded by flowers from all over the globe.
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This is Shirai Seiichi

23 October - 12 December 2021

The Shoto Museum of Art
(Tokyo)
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An architect who studied philosophy in Germany, Shirai (1905-83) had an unorthodox resume for his profession. This exhibition introduces the full range of his unique architectural creations as well as the many other fields, notably writing and calligraphy, in which he exercised his talents. A common thread running through all his endeavors is a concern with form and space.
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Hideaki Anno Exhibition
1 October - 19 December 2021
The National Art Center, Tokyo
(Tokyo)
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Director of the hit anime film Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon A Time, the latest installment of his blockbuster Evangelion franchise, Anno is the subject of a sprawling retrospective that contains everything from past works from his days as an animator to his recent output as a director and producer. His anime and tokusatsu (special effects) work is represented by a trove of original drawings and miniatures, augmented by a prodigious volume of handwritten memos, illustrations, scripts, sketches, storyboards, and layouts chronicling every stage of his career since its amateur beginnings.
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Tomoto Shisuko's Paradise -- I Can't Help But Paint: A Picture Diary of My Life
4 September - 7 November 2021
Setagaya Art Museum
(Tokyo)
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Self-taught artist Tomoto (1913-2005) began painting oils in her fifties, using a 4.5-mat (less than 7 square meters) room in her home as her studio. Treating her paintings as a visual diary of her daily life, she used not only canvas but whatever materials lay at hand to create free-form works of unfettered energy and joy. The 200 pictures in this exhibition immerse the viewer in a world that was entirely of Tomoto's own invention.
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Miran Fukuda Exhibition
2 October - 19 December 2021
Chiba City Museum of Art
(Chiba)
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An accomplished parodist, Fukuda delights in subverting stereotypes and preconceptions, goading the viewer to adopt new ways of seeing or thinking about art and things in general. Her works are not merely paintings, but brilliantly conceived windows into an alternate world. Here the artist presents new works inspired by art of the Edo and Meiji periods that she picked out of the museum's collection. It's fascinating to see how Fukuda replicates, reinterprets and reimagines these masterpieces.
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