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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: Although Japan's state of quasi-emergency has been lifted, many museums and galleries 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 16 May 2022
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Toko Shinoda: a retrospective
16 April - 22 June 2022
Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery
(Tokyo)
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Coming one year after the seminal calligraphic artist's passing at age 107, this retrospective introduces over 120 of her works and other materials. According to the gallery: "For over 70 years, Toko Shinoda pioneered and explored the distinctive field of abstract expression using sumi ink from the vantage point of avant-garde calligraphy, all the while maintaining a proud independence. [. . .] After World War II, she travelled alone to New York when she was in her forties [. . .] Her work garnered much attention and was highly acclaimed at a time when there was mounting enthusiasm for new forms of expression and a resonance between Western abstract art and Japanese avant-garde calligraphy."
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Minimal/Conceptual: Dorothee and Konrad Fischer and the Art Scenes in the 1960s and 1970s
26 March - 29 May 2022
Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art
(Hyogo)
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A look back, through the prism of the titular couple's Fischer Gallery in Dusseldorf, at the trajectory of the minimal and conceptual art movements from the sixties onward. Such themes as “Rules and Continuity," "Numbers and Time," "Walking," and "Art and the Everyday" are represented by two or three artists each, allowing the viewer to see commonalities as well as differences in approach. Besides works by the 18 featured artists, the show offers installation instructions, drawings, and correspondence preserved by the Fischers. Making the rounds of several museums here, it's a significant exhibition for art aficionados in Japan.
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Yosizaka Takamasa Panorama World: from life-size to the earth
19 February - 19 June 2022
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
(Tokyo)
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Yosizaka (1917-1980), a prominent Japanese disciple of Le Corbusier, is the subject of this extensive retrospective -- the first such in a public museum. Though naturally focused on architecture, the show also looks at his urban design work, ethnological research, and pedagogy, as well as his global travels, explorations, and mountain-climbing exploits, giving a sense of the astonishing breadth of the man's interests. Yosizaka himself relied on his personal experiences for professional inspiration. One highlight is a full-size section sketch of his own residence, which covers an entire wall. (For a detailed review, see the April 2022 Focus.)
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The Art of Special Effects Production Designer Yasuyuki "Taiko" Inoue
19 March - 19 June 2022
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
(Tokyo)
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Inoue (1922-2012) was the special effects wizard who designed the miniature cities destroyed by Godzilla and his kin during the golden era of Japanese monster movies. This overview of his career begins with paintings he produced during his art student days, moves on to his sketches, storyboards, photos and models for monster and war movies (some 500 items in all), and culminates with a reproduction of his miniature version of downtown Fukuoka, destroyed in the 1956 film Rodan! The Flying Monster.
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Faces and Masks: Their Shape and Spirit

15 March - 22 May 2022
Reimeikan, Kagoshima Prefectural Center for Historical Material
(Kagoshima)
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Since time immemorial, people have painted pictures of faces or reproduced them in sculptures. They have also created masks whose expressions move the beholder when worn over the face during ceremonies and dances. Those expressions vary even among Noh masks, which initially may appear devoid of affect, and among the faces of Buddha figures portrayed in the act of prayer. The exhibition presents a rich selection of works that convey the magic of masks and other renderings of the human face.
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Yoshimura Yoshio: Beyond Hyper-Realism
16 April - 29 May 2022
Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art
(Fukuoka)
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Yoshimura (1950-2013) created some astounding art, all in a hyper-realistic style: countless self-portraits, which he drew daily; letter-by-letter replicas of entire newspaper pages; ten-meter-long drawings of flowers in color pencil. This retrospective covers everything from his early monochrome prints and drawings to the colorful flower murals of his final years, as well as the self-portraits he produced throughout his life.
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Kosei Komatsu Exhibition: Dream of Forest
16 April - 12 June 2022
Kanaz Forest of Creation
(Fukui)
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Komatsu (b. 1981) is best known for mobiles that resemble birds and feathers, born of his fascination with the concept of "floating." Recently he has been combining human technology with the technologies inherent in nature to create works revolving around the themes of lightness, motion, and light. Playing off the forest-like ambience of the outdoor venue, this large-scale installation draws us into a world of the imagination inspired by both nature and human endeavor.
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Sustaining the Monogatari: Talk, Connect, Grow
19 March - 6 June 2022
Hachinohe Art Museum
(Aomori)
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The word monogatari can mean either "things speaking" or "speaking of things"; the idea here is that a museum must sustain both phenomena as they pertain to the "things" in its collection. To give voice to the works on display, the show provides narratives by various people about the history, scenes, and human interactions behind the museum's collection. When the voices of visitors are added to the mix, they further cement the bonds between these works and the land, people, and destiny of Hachinohe.
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Kirstie Rea: The Breadth of Stillness
12 March - 26 June 2022
Toyama Glass Art Museum
(Toyama)
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From the museum website: "Australian artist Kirstie Rea walks in the hills and natural parks around her hometown Canberra to explore a sense of 'connecting with place' that can often be tenuous in contemporary culture. She expresses her experience and awareness in glass sculptures and installations. [. . .] This exhibition, her largest ever and first solo show in Japan, traces the breadth of stillness she has walked by presenting recent works along with works from nearly 40 years of her creation and thought."
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Teppei Kaneuji: S.F. (Something Falling/Floating)
16 April - 26 June 2022
Ichihara Lakeside Museum
(Chiba)
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According to the curators, "Teppei Kaneuji is recognized as one of the most remarkable artists of our time. Kaneuji uses a collage-like technique to free everyday objects from their usual purposes and contexts, connecting them dynamically to reveal unexpected forms and landscapes. [. . .] This exhibition introduces Kaneuji's ambitious attempt to reflect upon 'sculpture' while drawing from his experiences and once again returning to his personal standpoint. [. . .] Visitors are invited to explore the wonders of Teppei Kaneuji's 'S.F. Universe' that unfolds within this art museum conceived as a heritage of Japan's bubble-economy architecture on the shores of an artificial lake."
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