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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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Welcome! Ehon Museum
19 July - 28 August 2022
Fukuoka Asian Art Museum
(Fukuoka)
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The Ehon (lit. "Picture Book") Museum's forte is producing digital-content exhibits that utilize the latest technology to give children (with or without their parents) an immersive experience in picture books and stories. Kids can enjoy the world of fantasy with all their senses, not just the eyes, and thereby discover the thrill of feeling and expressing things through the medium of the ehon. This 16th iteration of the program at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum revolves around the theme of "Love You!" and offers young visitors a safe and comfortable space in which to indulge and share their enthusiasm for picture books.
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Hide-n-Seek
16 July - 4 September 2022
Chigasaki City Museum of Art
(Kanagawa)
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The pandemic has been a time punctuated by periods of prolonged isolation when we couldn't go out or meet friends, and had to hunker down at home. Silent cities with their deserted streets took on the air of a vast game of hide-and-seek. WIth the titular game as its keyword, this show brings together four artists: Keisuke Shirota (b. 1975), known for works in which he removes the human figures from travel photos, and three others whose works have recently been added to the museum collection -- painter Kaoru Ueda (b. 1928), print artist Niwako Tan-ami (b. 1927), and painter Ryosuke Hara (b. 1975).
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Which One's Which? Iwai Toshio: "A House of 100 Stories" and Media Art
2 July - 19 September 2022
Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki
(Ibaraki)
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A retrospective devoted to a man who wears two distinct creative hats: Toshio Iwai the beloved picture-book writer and Toshio Iwai the celebrated media artist. Many fans of one or the other may not even realize they are the same person. As befits a youthful prodigy who built his own toys when his mother refused to buy him any more, the show begins with childhood notes on inventions and homemade manga before moving on to original drawings and sketches for picture books as well as installations of his media art. A protean talent if there ever was one.
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Makiko Kudo: Like When We See a Flower Bloom and Realise It Was There All Along
9 July - 11 September 2022
Hiratsuka Museum of Art
(Kanagawa)
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Kudo (b. 1978) paints pictures that imbue familiar situations with her emotions about them. Her landscapes are filled with a chaotic, dreamlike mix of everyday experiences, places she has lived, and other memories, all rolled into one. They also exude an intimacy and a narrative quality that arouse in viewers their own recollections of scenes and events. By thoroughly engaging with these works, even people unused to contemporary modes of artistic expression should experience the pleasures of immersion and discovery as they yield to the images therein.
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Shiori Yajima: Dazzling, Momentary White

28 April - 5 September 2022
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Karuizawa
(Nagano)
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In the artist's words: "White light does not pour down from above; it is everywhere -- in Nature, in a child's eyes, and inside my eyelids. Recently I've had the opportunity to rethink the process of scooping it up and sublimating it into a painting, and so have embarked on a new exploration of white in pictures. In my latest series, Forest of Light, I depict trees and their shadows in monotone, but lay gold leaf in ornamental fashion over the topmost layer of the composition. Though I take different approaches to the picture plane in the works exhibited here, fundamentally they are all the same."
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Color Fields -- from the Collection of Audrey and David Mirvish
19 March - 4 September 2022
Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art
(Chiba)
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According to the museum: "Color field painting is a style of abstract painting which developed mainly in the U.S. from the latter half of the 1950s to the 1960s. Featuring works from the Mirvish Collection, which is internationally renowned for its color field paintings, this is the first exhibition to be held in Japan with a focus on nine artists involved in color field [who produced] distinguished works dating from the 1960s onwards. These artists each explored the relationship between color and painting in their own way, using shaped canvases with irregular forms, staining the canvas with paint, spraying color on with a spray gun, etc. These unfamiliar techniques opened up new horizons in painting."
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A New Light: The Ads and Art of Seiju Toda
15 July - 31 August 2022
Fukui Fine Arts Museum
(Fukui)
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Fukui-born Toda (b. 1948) is one of Japan's leading art directors. His innovative ad designs stood conventional wisdom on its head and pioneered new concepts in advertising. In recent years he has undertaken ambitious projects that reflect his distinctive personal aesthetic, ranging from supervision of the design of the Lightface "canvas of light" (2013) to completion of the Brilliant Heart Museum (2018) in Sakai, Fukui Prefecture, which features the ever-changing panorama of nearby Oshima island as a work of art in itself. This exhibition introduces the full range of his advertising work and offers insights into the maverick worldview behind it.
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Moon Kyungwon & Jeon Joonho: News from Nowhere
3 May - 4 September 2022
21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
(Ishikawa)
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Of the Korea-based artist duo, the curators write: "Moon and Jeon identify various issues in contemporary society, posing messages for us who live in the present to ponder through their works. Today, we are forced to recognize that the calamities that have afflicted mankind since ancient times, such as epidemics and wars, continue to exist as powerful threats. In this unsettled time, their works enable the audience to appreciate how Moon and Jeon perceive a world fraught with threats, distortions, contradictions, and oppression, and what kind of change they are aiming for. Each of the works exhibited stands alone while being somehow interconnected, creating a multilayered world of artworks."
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ON: Objects and Bodies, from the Point of Contact
25 June - 21 August 2022
Kiyosu City Haruhi Museum of Art
(Aichi)
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A group presentation by four contemporary artists -- Rui Mizuki, Yukari Bunya, Mari Tanimoto, and Mitsuru Tokisato -- who seek out new tactile experiences by engaging their senses through physical contact with objects encountered in the course of everyday life. Mizuki, for example, takes information he obtains from contact with urban surfaces like walls and the ground, converting it to visual art through the mediums of photography and painting. Bunya applies pen or pencil to paper, generating continuous lines and shapes in a rhythm defined by her physical sensibilities.
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The Heroes ‒- Chronicles of the Warriors: Japanese Swords × Ukiyo-e from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
2 July - 28 August 2022
Shizuoka City Museum of Art
(Shizuoka)
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The MFA boasts a world-famous collection of Japanese art -- over 100,000 works that include some 50,000 ukiyo-e prints as well as 600 swords. This show focuses on the collection's musha-e, "warrior pictures" of legendary heroes from war epics like the Tale of the Heike. The 118 musha-e on view here (for the first time in Japan) are accompanied by 27 tsuba sword mountings adorned with the same motifs as the prints.
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