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The politics behind Japan's modern era of proletarian art

Nov 13, 2013

The politics behind Japan's modern era of proletarian art

by Matthew Larking

“Art and Literature in Japan 1926-1936″ follows the close of the Taisho Era (1912-1926), which was characterized by democracy, artistic experimentation and widespread social self-absorptions by the citizenry in new fashions such as the “beach pajama” outfits of “modern” girls. The successive Showa Era ...

Portraits reveal much more than a person's appearance

Nov 13, 2013

Portraits reveal much more than a person's appearance

by Stuart Munro

Filmmaker and photographer Dennis Hopper leans against an old wall with his camera sandwiched between his body and the brickwork. Photographer Robert Frank lies sockless on the sand, harmonica in mouth. These celebrities are only two of a very long list of figures from ...

Divided opinions on Divisionism

Nov 6, 2013

Divided opinions on Divisionism

by C.B. Liddell

By the time you get to the end of the Divisionism exhibition, now showing at the National Art Center Tokyo, you realize that this strand in the history of art is more about the journey than the destination. It’s like traveling through a world ...

Issei Suda: everything but square

Nov 6, 2013

Issei Suda: everything but square

by Mio Yamada

Baring its teeth and twisting awkwardly as it struggles against a rope around its neck, the distressed goat in Issei Suda’s 1976 photo appears slightly demonic. Its white fur glows uncannily against a mass of dark branches, while its mud-streaked horns and hooves make ...

Outsider drawn to the circle of life

Nov 5, 2013

Outsider drawn to the circle of life

by Edward M. Gómez

The discovery and promotion of works by self-taught or outsider artists — those who are not academically trained and create their works primarily for themselves, mostly beyond the cultural-commercial mainstream — are still relatively new activities in Japan. Against this background, the success of ...

Turner: Steering art toward Impressionism

Oct 30, 2013

Turner: Steering art toward Impressionism

by C.B. Liddell

One of the most impressive paintings at the “Turner from the Tate” exhibition now on at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum is “Spithead: Two Captured Danish Ships Entering Portsmouth Harbour” (1808). In some ways it is a run-of-the-mill, realist sea painting of the type ...

The effervescence of artist He Xiangyu

Oct 30, 2013

The effervescence of artist He Xiangyu

by James Jack

He Xiangyu is a conceptualist with a clear vision of the world as a philosophical playground. The critical language employed in his artworks quotes from global consumerism, Americanism and militarism, emphasizing the power of infinitesimal change. He uses the shape of a leaf to ...

Tokyo Designers Week uses music, art as draws

Oct 24, 2013

Tokyo Designers Week uses music, art as draws

by Cameron Allan Mckean

The definition of design in Japan is changing. Depending on who you speak to, what falls under its umbrella is either shrinking or expanding to include nearly all aspects of modern life. This year’s edition of Tokyo Designers Week (TDW) would be in the ...

The importance of being Yokoyama

Oct 23, 2013

The importance of being Yokoyama

by C.B. Liddell

Big exhibitions of famous Japanese artists are usually held on important anniversaries of their birth or death. The Taikan Yokoyama exhibition now on at the Yokohama Museum of Art, however, breaks with this convention. Rather than marking the 150th, 100th or 50th anniversary of ...