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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: Due to a recent surge in Covid cases, parts of Japan are currently under a state of quasi-emergency, and some museums have temporarily closed. Others may 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 March 2022
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Rinko Kawauchi and Scenes from Yamanami Kobo
11 February - 13 March 2022
Higashi Osaka Citizens Art Center
(Osaka)
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For a year and a half starting in 2018, photographer Kawauchi captured images of day-to-day life at Yamanami Kobo, a facility for the disabled in Shiga Prefecture. Juxtaposing these photos with artworks by facility residents, the exhibition frames the creative endeavors of people with disabilities through Kawauchi's compassionate and transparent lens, prompting us to meditate on the coexistence of people with diverse attributes and the possibilities of an inclusive society.
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Hello! Super Collection -- 99 Untold Stories
2 February - 21 March 2022
Nakanoshima Museum of Art, Osaka
(Osaka)
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This really big show chooses some 400 representative works from the more than 6,000 in the brand-new, long-awaited museum's vaults. Divided into three sections focusing respectively on "super collectors," "super stars," and "super visions," the exhibition invites familiarity with the collection (which the curators declare to be "of a quality unsurpassed in Japan") by sharing "stories" about the provenance of 99 of these works, encouraging visitors to add their own story to make it an even 100. (For a detailed review, see this month's Focus.)
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Osamu Torinoumi Making Type: Like Water, Like Air
15 January - 19 March 2022
Kyoto ddd Gallery
(Kyoto)
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Yamagata-born, Tokyo-based type designer Torinoumi (b. 1955) has created over 100 typefaces. According to the gallery, this show "examines how typefaces, which are an inseparable part our daily lives, are created, and how they become the infrastructure we see in the world around us. Through sketches born out of the design process, traces of trial and error, drafts, finished type, and examples of use in the real world, the exhibition attempts to showcase Torinoumi's work to date."
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Sakiko Nomura: Blue Water
11 February - 27 March 2022
Shimonoseki City Art Museum
(Yamaguchi)
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Shimonoseki native Nomura (b. 1967) studied photography with the legendary Nobuyoshi Araki after graduating from university, and has regularly shown her work in photo books and exhibitions since 1993. Best known for the male nudes she has photographed since her college days, she has earned accolades for the mix of tension and intimacy in her images. This, her first solo show in her home town, offers some 150 works spanning her entire career to date, providing a thorough introduction to Nomura's world.
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Kobayakawa Shusei: A Life of Journey and Requiem

11 February - 21 March 2022
Tottori Prefectural Museum
(Tottori)
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A Nihonga (Japanese-style) painter with roots in Tottori, Kobayakawa (1885-1974) has recently attracted renewed interest for his output as an official "war artist" during World War II, epitomized by Shield of the Nation, his ambiguous painting of a dead Japanese soldier lying in state with a national flag covering his face. Yet before the war, he traveled widely in North America, Europe and Asia and produced colorful, lyrical work. With over 100 pieces from different periods of his life, together with copious materials and documents, this retrospective gives a solid overview of the oeuvre of a unique artist.
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Takamatsu Contemporary Art Annual Vol. 10
11 February - 21 March 2022
Takamatsu Art Museum
(Kagawa)
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This series of group exhibitions began as a means of discovering and introducing contemporary artists of noteworthy creativity and promise. This iteration features five such practitioners -- Lina Uchida, Hiroko Kubo, Ishu Han, Eboshi Yuasa, and Eiki Mori -- under the intriguingly punctuated theme "No Boundaries Here./?" In their quest for new forms of expression through experimentation with materials, methods, and concepts, contemporary artists overturn our preconceptions and erase the boundaries we unconsciously embrace. They also lay bare the injustice and absurdity of the boundaries that exist in society and the individual.
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In Marugame -- At the Moment -- Three Artist Collectives
18 December 2021 - 21 March 2022
Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art
(Kagawa)
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With its focus on the current state of Marugame as a typical regional city in Japan, this exhibition is the fruit of research conducted there by three groups of artists with maverick perspectives on contemporary society. Since the project was launched in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the three collectives -- Kosuge1-16, Nadegata Instant Party, and Traveling Research Laboratory -- have had to improvise ways of carrying out their research collaboratively while employing their own respective methods.
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Age of Ebihara: 1945-1976
25 February - 30 March 2022
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art
(Kumamoto)
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A review of the artistic trajectory of Kinosuke Ebihara (1904-70), a painter from Kagoshima who was a driving force in postwar Kumamoto's art scene. This assemblage of notable works by Ebihara as well as his associates and disciples, along with relevant materials, provides a comprehensive look at that milieu. Kumamoto citizens actively supported Ebihara et al. in an effort to nurture a locally-based art scene for a new era, and the exhibition gives us a sense of the passion of the artists and their patrons during that period.
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I Can't Give Up Hope: The Art of Tabe Mitsuko
5 January - 21 March 2022
Fukuoka Art Museum
(Fukuoka)
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Born in 1933 in Japan-occupied Taiwan, Tabe relocated with her family to Fukuoka after the war, began painting on her own, and became a key member of the avant-garde artist group Kyushu-ha in the late fifties. She is known for works like the Placards series (1961), themed on the upheavals of postwar society, and Artificial Placenta (1961), regarded today as a pioneering example of feminist art. Grounded in her personal experiences and thoughts, Tabe's work resonates as strongly as ever with viewers today. This show reexamines her work from the Kyushu-ha era to the present.
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Kazumasa Nagai's Poster Design: To Live / To Create
19 February - 3 April 2022
Gunma Museum of Art, Tatebayashi
(Gunma)
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One of Japan's preeminent graphic designers, Nagai (b. 1929) has been active since the early 1950s, producing cutting-edge posters and logos for government agencies, corporations, and other organizations. The creativity of his designs elevates his posters above the level of advertising and into the realm of fine art. This selection of some 140 works testifies to the novelty, richness and breadth of his vision.
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