Flattening the art world with gentle avant-gardism

Sep 22, 2011

Flattening the art world with gentle avant-gardism

The avant-garde probably never looked as moderate and conservative as it did in 1888, when a group of young, bearded French painters founded a group known as “Les Nabis.” The facial hair was not incidental either, helping to give the group its moniker: “Nabi” ...

Looking beyond the landscape view

Jul 21, 2011

Looking beyond the landscape view

Most of us understand bridges to be structures that help us keep our feet dry. However, in the latest exhibition at the Mitsui Memorial Museum, “The Bridge in Japanese Art: From Ama-no-Hashidate to Nihonbashi,” it turns out that we’ve only been partly right. The ...

The art of spying on bathing beauties

Jul 7, 2011

The art of spying on bathing beauties

Women at times are like canvases. You see them on the trains, painting their faces, or else walking around wearing intriguing outfits, usually somewhat poker-faced. Consequently, the thought keeps occurring that perhaps they want to be looked at rather in the same way that ...

Chasing dreams in gold and silver

Jun 2, 2011

Chasing dreams in gold and silver

You’ve probably heard of Japan’s quaint custom of designating some people as Living National Treasures. Usually it’s applied to exponents of a traditional art, craft or performing art in their twilight years. Luckily, nobody has ever come up with the idea of “stealing” these ...

Knowing Sharaku's art without knowing the artist

May 26, 2011

Knowing Sharaku's art without knowing the artist

One of Japan’s greatest mysteries is the true identity of the ukiyo-e (woodblock print) artist Toshusai Sharaku, whose entire career was crammed into a 10-month period from 1794 to 1795, during which he produced 145 separate print sheets. With practically no reliable biographical information ...

Art in the realm of the sense of smell

May 19, 2011

Art in the realm of the sense of smell

In the battle between sight and smell, sight usually comes out on top as the more valued sense. But while our visual sense supplies us with copious and precise information about the world around us and allows us to appreciate images of beauty, our ...

May 12, 2011

'Zhu Wei: Utopia'

Tobin Ohashi Gallery Closes June 5 The status of contemporary Chinese art often seems driven by the notion that China is projected to overtake America as the world’s leading economy and superpower sometime in the future, combined with the rather naive hope that artistic ...

'Art Brut Japonais': Unleashing the uninhibited power of expression

May 5, 2011

'Art Brut Japonais': Unleashing the uninhibited power of expression

In recent weeks there have been several contemporary-art group exhibitions, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo Annual, VOCA at the Ueno Royal Museum, and the Sompo Japan Rising Artists Exhibition. In theory these exhibitions, which are usually scheduled to coincide with the optimism ...

Subtleties that shine through the shadows

Apr 22, 2011

Subtleties that shine through the shadows

Recently, thanks to the power cuts caused by the damage to the Fukushima nuclear reactors, many of us have been rediscovering exactly what light is again. Instead of something to be taken for granted, unvarying and instantly available at the flick of a switch, ...