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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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Art in Holography Pioneer: Ishii Setsuko
16 July - 4 September 2022
Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art
(Fukuoka)
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This is the largest retrospective to date of Ishii's (b. 1946) holographic art. Her three-dimensional imagery conjures up a beautiful, dreamlike space that blends art with science. Holographic art can only be seen with the naked eye, and this show provides a rare opportunity to view the work of one of the world's pioneers in the genre.
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Rieko Koyama: Life Beauty Energy
30 June - 11 October 2022
Ikeda Museum of 20th Century Art
(Shizuoka)
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For nearly four decades Koyama (b. 1955) has been painting flowers, not so much as symbols of sex or sensuality as of the evanescence of life. Her soft, hazy images resemble long-exposure photos of flowers in the process of blooming, so they can be viewed as expressions of the elapsed time of life -- which ends, of course, with death. Koyama's imagery flows and shimmers like water or flames, yet also hints at fragmentation and rupture.
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MOT Annual 2022: My justice might be someone else's pain
16 July - 16 October 2022
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
(Tokyo)
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The 18th iteration of the museum's yearly group show features artists Ari Okubo, Haruka Kudo, Kazuya Takagawa, and Akira Rachi. Say the curators: "With language and narrative as points of departure, these artists explore how we can give visible shape to people and things forgotten in our era and by our society, and how we can focus in sharper resolution on the complex, institutionalized environment that envelops our lives."
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Jean Prouvé: Constructive Imagination
16 July - 16 October 2022
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
(Tokyo)
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Prouvé (1901-84) remains revered today as a leading light of 20th-century design and architecture. This exhibition vividly reminds us of his unique attitude toward making things. For one thing, he made no distinction between furniture and architecture, seeing them as the same work on different scales -- hence his vision of "an architecture that leaves no trace on the landscape." A display of the raw materials Prouvテゥ used offers tangible evidence of his strong attachment to those materials and his inquisitive approach to structure.
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Haruko Nakamura: The Sound of Light Part II -- Echo

7 July - 4 September 2022
Museum Haus Kasuya
(Kanagawa)
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The love and vitality that fairly burst from these pictures suggest that photographer Nakamura (1962-2005) was the ideal chronicler of the people and landscapes of Tuscany, Italy -- a place she visited, often several times in one year, between 1993 and 1998. One senses that the farming families she met there welcomed her as one of their own. Now, 17 years after her premature death, exhibitions like this one are a crucial means of introducing new generations of viewers to her stunning work.
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Kazuna Taguchi: A Quiet Sun
17 June - 30 September 2022
Maison Hermès
(Tokyo)
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Exposure to sunlight inevitably makes photographs deteriorate, their images fading away over time. Tokyo-born, Austria-based Taguchi (b. 1979) places that process front and center in series like The Eyes of Eurydice, in which the prevailing motif is "found" photos of paintings and sculptures. The all-glass venue admits a stream of soft natural light that accentuates the blurring of the distinction between photography and painting in her work.
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Kees Van Dongen: From Fauvism to Les Annテゥes folles
9 July - 25 September 2022
Panasonic Shiodome Museum of Art
(Tokyo)
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This exhibition traces the growth of the Dutch-French painter Van Dongen (1877-1968) into a leading exponent of Fauvism in the years before World War I. It also devotes sections to his vivid, colorful portrayals of the human figure and his work during the Roaring Twenties (known in France as the Années folles). In the museum's words, the artist's name became "synonymous with the grace and sensuality of the human body -- especially the female form, which he depicted in a resplendent palette." This is the first Van Dongen show at a Japanese museum in 44 years.
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Animals in Ukiyo-e
30 July - 25 September 2022
Ota Memorial Museum of Art
(Tokyo)
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From the exhibition's introduction: "Various animals appear in ukiyo-e. In addition to pets such as cats and dogs, and domestic animals such as horses and cows, those believed to be good omens, such as cranes and turtles, or imported from overseas, such as elephants and leopards, and even catfish, based on the superstition that catfish cause earthquakes, are depicted in ukiyo-e. Moreover, ukiyo-e artists used their imagination to create anthropomorphic creatures that do not exist in this world. Ukiyo-e is indeed a treasure trove of animal representations."
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Ryan Gander: The Markers of Our Time
16 July - 19 September 2022
Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery
(Tokyo)
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The British artist's first major solo show in Japan. Gander (b. 1976), the curators tell us, "works in a range of genres, including objects, installations, paintings, photography and video. His works are typically inspired by the artist noticing something that we tend to take for granted and no longer even think about in daily life. The profusion of intellectual curiosity that underlies his practice is evidenced by his observations on the act of seeing and his astute analyses of everyday experiences. The true value of Gander's works lies in how they create unexpected links and partially hide information, creating humorous opportunities for considering the origins of things or habits."
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Eyes on Tohoku 1930-1945
23 July - 25 September 2022
Tokyo Station Gallery
(Tokyo)
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In the 1930s, the northeastern Tohoku region began to attract artists and intellectuals from elsewhere in Japan and abroad who were drawn to its architecture, crafts, and even the implements of daily life. Among them were the German architect Bruno Taut, Mingei movement founder Soetsu Yanagi, and the French designer Charlotte Perriand. "Through these multilayered 'eyes' on Tohoku," we are informed, "this exhibition reaffirms that the region, regarded at the time as backward and marginal, was in fact the cradle of rich culture, and that the activities of the people living there are connected to the present." (For a detailed review, see this month's Focus.)
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