Is this the art of noise?

Feb 7, 2013

Is this the art of noise?

If art is something that you want to feel comfortable with in your home, then Haroon Mirza is probably not your man. As the winner of the 2012 Daiwa Foundation Art Prize, British-born, ethnic-Pakistani artist Mirza is being introduced to Tokyo’s art connoisseurs with ...

Hidden truths laid bare in the details of realism

Jan 31, 2013

Hidden truths laid bare in the details of realism

With a population of around 35 million, Greater Tokyo is the ultimate “modernist” conurbation; a vast megacity, where something as old-fashioned as realist art might seem out-of-date and out-of-place. Maybe so, but on the metropolis’ western and eastern extremities stand two museums that, each ...

Humble origins of great architectural photography

Jan 23, 2013

Humble origins of great architectural photography

The last couple of shows at the Shiodome Museum have been colorful and varied affairs, but the latest exhibition, showcasing Yukio Futagawa’s photos of traditional Japanese houses taken in 1955, strikes a very different note. There is an absence of color and accompanying objects, ...

Hakuin: The sight of one hand clapping

Jan 17, 2013

Hakuin: The sight of one hand clapping

Most people know the famous riddle, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” Many are also aware that it is connected with Zen Buddhism, and some will even know that it is a famous koan by the 18th-century monk Hakuin. A koan, of ...

Situations that end up spoiling the artistic landscape

Jan 10, 2013

Situations that end up spoiling the artistic landscape

Imagine you went to a movie theatre that insisted on doing anything other than showing you an actual movie, or to a restaurant where the waiter did all he could to stop you having an actual meal. This is a situation I sometimes find ...

Visions that leave little to the imagination

Jan 3, 2013

Visions that leave little to the imagination

Art can sometimes be surprisingly serious and po-faced, almost as if it were seen as a kind of substitute religion. Luckily, none of this pomposity attaches itself to the work of Sasae Ono, one of Japan’s most talented artists in the 20th-century, and the ...

Show of hands for the National Museum of Western Art

Dec 20, 2012

Show of hands for the National Museum of Western Art

Sometimes it seems that hands have a mind of their own. They remember where the keys are on a keyboard and which brushstroke in a Chinese character comes next, without too much conscious input from the brain. The instinctive way they work can also ...

Nature that goes beyond its course

Dec 13, 2012

Nature that goes beyond its course

The easiest way to describe this exhibition is “The meeting of two Mets,” with the Metropolitan Museum of Art Tokyo serving as a venue for 133 works from its much more renowned New York version, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, known simply as “The ...

What lies behind Ben Shahn's lines of the times

Dec 6, 2012

What lies behind Ben Shahn's lines of the times

When an artist feels compelled to incorporate words and poetry into many of his artworks, we get a sense that he may have taken up the wrong profession. This feeling of being unsettled in his art is something that comes up again and again ...

Communion with the spirits of wood

Nov 8, 2012

Communion with the spirits of wood

When you first encounter the sculptures of Koji Tanada, you might get the initial impression that he’s being facetious or whimsical, and assume that his sculptures are all part of an elaborate practical joke, designed to drive home some droll but not very profound ...