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, ...

Yoshihiko Takahashi's messages in a bottle

Apr 15, 2011

Yoshihiko Takahashi's messages in a bottle

The obvious property of glass is that it is transparent, but for Yoshihiko Takahashi this is only one of its essential characteristics. The prolific glass artist, whose career is being honored by a retrospective at the Crafts Gallery of the Museum of Modern Art ...

Takubo's building renovations turn art outside-in

Apr 8, 2011

Takubo's building renovations turn art outside-in

A lot of the restlessness and energy in contemporary art actually stems from a sense of emptiness and frustration that young artists feel as they flail around trying to find their true artistic voice. This certainly seems to have been the case in the ...

Designs on love, dreams and fun

Apr 1, 2011

Designs on love, dreams and fun

The 20th century, with its emphasis on war and mass industrialization, favored the functionalism of modernism in architecture, design, and other areas. This saw such elements as decoration, embellishment, playfulness and humor pushed to the sidelines in design. The rise of a more consumerist ...

'Nobuyoshi Araki: Theater of Love'

Mar 11, 2011

'Nobuyoshi Araki: Theater of Love'

Taka Ishii Gallery Photography/Film Closes March 26 One of the tricks of the trade that legendary lensman Nobuyoshi Araki is a master at taking photos when people least expect it, and often without their knowledge. I have personal experience of this as Araki once ...

Showing art can be a load of rubbish

Mar 4, 2011

Showing art can be a load of rubbish

How are Africans seen by the rest of the world? Often as victims of tragedy, requiring our pity and charity, as I discovered when I showed a class of students a photo of the respected Ghanaian artist El Anatsui. The picture — in the ...

Shindo Tsuji: From the trees to the earth

Feb 11, 2011

Shindo Tsuji: From the trees to the earth

In 1948, the respected Zen elder Ian Kishizawa told the sculptor Shindo Tsuji, “Forget whatever you can and express whatever remains.” Despite its enigmatic and paradoxical quality, this typically Zen-like admonition nevertheless manages to sum up the career of Tsuji (1910-1981), an important Japanese ...

Tadasu Takamine shocks us, yet again

Feb 4, 2011

Tadasu Takamine shocks us, yet again

In their endless efforts to make us see things in new ways and generally mess with our minds, contemporary conceptual artists such as Tadasu Takamine may often do more to distort their own view of the world than change the way the wider public ...