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Kyotographie: from Kyoto, with love

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Kyotographie — the brainchild of photographer Lucille Reyboz and lighting artist Yusuke Nakanishi — is 5 this year. Conceived and nurtured in Kyoto, it is now one of few substantial photography festivals in Japan, inarguably rivaling, even surpassing, many of the country’s other calendar art events. The present manifestation of ...

Kaiho Yusho: painting privilege

Apr 25, 2017

Kaiho Yusho: painting privilege

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The Momoyama Period (1573-1615) artist Kaiho Yusho (1533-1615) was renowned among the elite painters of his time, and still is. More remarkable, however, is that fame came when he was in his 60s during what is called his “early” period. Over the following two ...

Ken Domon and the artistry of real life

Apr 16, 2017

Ken Domon and the artistry of real life

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By 1957, photographer Ken Domon had reached the peak of his creative powers. A picture taken that year in Hiroshima, which he was visiting for the first time to chronicle the lingering effect of the bomb, shows him supremely confident: ram-rod straight on a ...

Kakiemon: Generations of beauty

Apr 11, 2017

Kakiemon: Generations of beauty

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There’s still time to enjoy cherry blossoms. Through May 14, the Toguri Museum of Art in Tokyo is exhibiting a stunning new work by Sakaida Kakiemon XV, the current inheritor of one of the most famous names in Japanese porcelain. The very large lidded ...

Kusama and her infinite appeal

Apr 4, 2017

Kusama and her infinite appeal

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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 ...

Leiji Matsumoto surfs the floating world

Apr 2, 2017

Leiji Matsumoto surfs the floating world

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The work of manga artist Leiji Matsumoto mixes historical periods, themes and technologies, often in a science-fiction setting: His signature comics involve steam locomotives and reborn World War II battleships sailing among the stars. These grand flights of fancy, which have found fans around ...

Then and now: time ripples in photography

Mar 28, 2017

Then and now: time ripples in photography

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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 ...

The tortured artist is not just a cliche

Mar 28, 2017

The tortured artist is not just a cliche

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Sai Hashizume’s latest exhibition of precision realist painting, “This Isn’t Happiness,” is about updating some of the masters of Western art history. In her five new works, she deals prominently with the surrealist Rene Magritte and Vincent Van Gogh. She also adopts the ominous ...

Masaaki Yamada: A painter of all stripes and colors

Mar 14, 2017

Masaaki Yamada: A painter of all stripes and colors

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Masaaki Yamada (1929-2010) is like a mystery man of modernism. He apparently had no specialist art training of note and is known only by a skeleton biography that is mostly blank before 1943, and patchy thereafter. Said to have begun painting from the so-called ...

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

Mar 14, 2017

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

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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'

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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

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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 ...