Hitoko Urago's 'Connected': blot-tests of portraiture

Mar 7, 2013

Hitoko Urago's 'Connected': blot-tests of portraiture

Hitoko Urago pairs paintings — portraits with abstractions — though each work is not necessarily conceived at the same time. “Untitled (Lynda)” (2012), for example, depicts a profile of a black woman with big hair against a green background. She is paired with a ...

'What We See' is not always what you get

Feb 28, 2013

'What We See' is not always what you get

Rendered as “What We See” in English, the title of this show should perhaps more accurately follow the Japanese one, which would be: “Dream, Reality, Illusion?” “Video” art is now mostly moribund because technology has changed, leaving that form of expression as largely digitized ...

Breathing life into the forgotten and neglected

Feb 14, 2013

Breathing life into the forgotten and neglected

Painter Daisuke Fukunaga (b.1981) states: “If the world is the stage of a theater, I want to paint the bustle of the things waiting behind the blackout curtain rather than the heroine.” His motifs are of things forgotten and neglected, but unlike his earlier ...

Go with the flow from representational to abstract

Feb 14, 2013

Go with the flow from representational to abstract

For five years starting in 2007, Shinpei Kusanagi (b.1973) made monthly serialized paintings to accompany installments of Teru Miyamoto’s novel “Mizu no Katachi” (“The Shape of Water”) in the magazine éclat. Text and image had little to do with one another, though the small, ...

Western influences on Suda's nostalgic East

Jan 3, 2013

Western influences on Suda's nostalgic East

The fusion of East and West is a major theme in 20th-century art, even though, in important ways, the two don’t mix. What seems at one point to be their ostensible unification, appears in another as discordant. Such inconsonance lurks in the background at ...

Tadanori Yokoo unearths a future from personal past

Dec 13, 2012

Tadanori Yokoo unearths a future from personal past

The establishment of a museum in the name of an individual is always, to a degree, a memorializing issue in preparation for the inevitable. The inauguration of the Yokoo Tadanori Museum of Contemporary Art in many ways heralds such, and Yokoo’s oeuvre has often ...

The fall and rise of 'The Greek'

Nov 22, 2012

The fall and rise of "The Greek"

For an artist, expatriation can be a kind of death — because for an artist, it can mean estrangement from the contexts and locations that secure a place in the annals of history that tend to emphasize centers over peripheries. El Greco (1541-1614), “The ...

A fine line separates calligraphy and what's called 'art'

Nov 15, 2012

A fine line separates calligraphy and what's called 'art'

The late 19th and 20th centuries witnessed a series of flip-flops among scholars as to whether calligraphy could be considered a fine art. Compared to painting and sculpture, wrote painter Koyama Shotaro in 1882, calligraphy did not attain the level of an art based ...

Kyoto painting schools pushed <em>nihonga</em> to the limit

Nov 8, 2012

Kyoto painting schools pushed nihonga to the limit

Japan, as elsewhere, has never had a singular art world but a plurality of formations. This is as true of pre-modern art as it is for Modernism and contemporary art — think of Takashi Murakami, his “factory” Kaikai Kiki and Geisai the art fair ...

Fanning the flames of art

Sep 6, 2012

Fanning the flames of art

Shingo Tanaka (b. 1983) has installed his panels so seamlessly into Kyoto’s eN arts gallery that the works first appear to be done on the walls. Though having trained as an oil painter, the soft scumblings and wisps of smoke and licks of fire ...