John L. Tran

For John L. Tran's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Kusama and her infinite appeal

Apr 4, 2017

Kusama and her infinite appeal

Yayoi Kusama’s work has a direct and immediate visual impact. Her obsessions with dots, pumpkins and floppy phalluses have become big crowd pleasers after a spotty career of avant-garde agitation and mental-health issues. The auction house Christie’s says she is “now the highest-selling living ...

Then and now: time ripples in photography

Mar 28, 2017

Then and now: time ripples in photography

There are two photography exhibitions currently showing at the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum that are thematically and chronologically unrelated, but together make a strong testimony of the extent to which Japan embraced photography from its earliest beginnings, and how the medium is a strong ...

Borders in question for Chim↑Pom's new art show

Mar 14, 2017

Borders in question for Chim↑Pom's new art show

Ballsy art collective Chim↑Pom have taken on Donald Trump’s America in their solo exhibition “The other side.” One of the most well-known contemporary iconoclasts in Japan, Chim↑Pom have previously caught rats before dyeing them yellow and red to resemble Pikachu and installing them on ...

A gently explosive 'Blossom Blast'

Mar 7, 2017

A gently explosive 'Blossom Blast'

Beware the loan word “feminizumu.” If you ask accomplished, educated and gainfully employed Japanese women whether they are feminists, the adverse reaction can be confusing. I first came up against this in a seminar of women art-history students, who unanimously, and vehemently rejected the ...

'Physicatopia': Boys being boys

Mar 7, 2017

'Physicatopia': Boys being boys

Being only a part-time art historian, but full-time gossip, I spend more time commiserating with my single female friends on the problem of “Why are there no great men?” than I ponder the rhetorical “Why have there been no great women artists?”, as feminist ...

Naoki Ishikawa: the full picture

Jan 31, 2017

Naoki Ishikawa: the full picture

Naoki Ishikawa does not seem to want to take fantastically dramatic photographs. He has travelled from the North to South Pole, climbed “The Seven Summits,” the highest mountains of every continent, and traveled the length of the Japan, but his images are remarkable for ...

Singapore Biennale takes a good hard look in the mirror

Jan 28, 2017

Singapore Biennale takes a good hard look in the mirror

Malaysian artist Azizan Paiman tells me that to lose weight, all I have to do is make sure that the calories I expend are more than the calories I consume. I already know that, but he’s done it, and I haven’t. He also tells ...

Jochen Lempert: The photographic seer

Jan 10, 2017

Jochen Lempert: The photographic seer

Jochen Lempert’s exhibition “Fieldwork” at the Izu Photo Museum has an ageless feel to it. The intentionally low contrast pictures of wildlife and natural phenomena almost look like they could be archive photos unearthed from the mid-19th century. However, they also have the cool ...