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 ...

Hirayama: Paying simple tribute to the Silk Road

Jan 28, 2011

Hirayama: Paying simple tribute to the Silk Road

Recently Stephen Fry’s BBC comedy quiz show “QI,” was in trouble over panelist’s comments regarding Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a survivor of both atomic bombs dropped on Japan. Amid generally admiring chit chat about Yamaguchi, panelists treated the bombings with a degree of levity typical of ...

Following Monet to the country

Jan 14, 2011

Following Monet to the country

The charm of Impressionism was that it allowed a great deal of artistic freedom and expressiveness without losing touch with realism. A good Impressionist painting allows us to recognize a scene, while encouraging us to see it in new ways. This quality of blending ...

The Kandinsky narcissistic blues

Jan 7, 2011

The Kandinsky narcissistic blues

Anyone who has seen the unrefined figurative works of Mark Rothko can easily understand why he later turned to his abstract Color Field works. Because of examples like this, there is always a suspicion that abstract art is merely the last refuge of the ...

Meet some famous Japanese ghosts of publishing

Dec 24, 2010

Meet some famous Japanese ghosts of publishing

We live in interesting times. Because of the Internet, old familiar media formats are breaking down or going through changes. More and more printed word publications are going out of business or finding new life online. The old LP/album format is essentially an anachronism ...