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John L. Tran
For John L. Tran's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Jul 17, 2018
A photographer's return to Aomori
'I photograph landscape like it's skin' — artist Masako Kakizaki on her 'Aonoymous: Full Circle' project
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Jul 15, 2018
Tokyo art space battles against the current
Repurposing old buildings to show art is becoming increasingly mainstream in Japan, but the route by which Koichiro Osaka ended up creating the Asakusa gallery has been circuitous, and an odd mix of chance and determination.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Jun 19, 2018
Bridget Riley: The art world's illusionist
A very concise review of the Bridget Riley exhibition at the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art, would be this: Barring those who are prone to motion sickness, go and see it. This applies equally to predisposed art buffs who already know and appreciate her work, and to those who haven't heard of her,...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Jun 5, 2018
'Paddington Bear' exhibition tells the story of the most English of Peruvian bears
Ten years after the HMT Empire Windrush brought Britain's first major influx of West Indian immigrants to the United Kingdom, and 10 years before Conservative MP Enoch Powell made his famously inflammatory speech predicting "rivers of blood" if Britain allowed mass migration, a fictional Peruvian orphan...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
May 22, 2018
Tomoo Gokita: Exposing the underbelly of pop culture
Tomoo Gokita's deformations of his subjects are surrealistic with a precision mix of austere black, white and grays, low-brow culture imagery, kookiness and powerfully evocative draftsmanship.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
May 20, 2018
Roppongi Art Night's giant splash of color
Roppongi Art Night's ninth iteration promises to be a vibrant collection of large-scale works and performances, including those by Teppei Kanueji, Ujino and Kengo Kito.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
May 15, 2018
Noritaka Minami's city of broken dreams
Noritaka Minami's aerial photographs of the failed urban project of California City in the Mojave Desert are quietly devastating. Purposefully using high-ISO film that shows grain even at low enlargement, his images of a planned city — mostly a network of uninhabited roads — are pale planes of dots and lines
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
May 1, 2018
The Spanish Golden Age of earthy realism
'Velazquez and the Celebration of Painting: The Golden Age in the Museo Del Prado' celebrates 150 years of Japan-Spain diplomatic relations with an exploration of the authority of vision and humanity of the divine.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Mar 27, 2018
Michiko Kon: Mistress of the dark
The abominable beauty of Michiko Kon's work is back.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Mar 20, 2018
Koga: A pithy affair with the avant-garde
There are two good reasons to see the exhibition on the short-lived photography magazine Koga, now on at the Tokyo Photographic Art (TOP) Museum. One is that it is full of powerful images that will linger in the memory despite their relative simplicity. The other is that, as the story of art continues...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Mar 6, 2018
Time to welcome our robot overlords?
"Hello World — For the Post-Human Age" at Art Tower Mito looks at developments in art in the context of digital technology and artificial intelligence. It starts with a lightly comedic farce, in the form of Cecile B. Evans' 2016 multimedia installation "Sprung a Leak." This three-act work, partly inspired...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Feb 20, 2018
The best pick and mix of modern art
The current exhibition at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art could be considered a retrospective of Toshio Hara's career as a collector. Surprisingly, given that the museum was founded in 1979, it's the first time that the director and president has personally curated a show there, and the title is...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Feb 6, 2018
Roni Horn: Ways to present the self
While visiting the Rathole Gallery, a confident 3 year-old told me that his favorite work in the current exhibition, Roni Horn’s “The Selected Gifts,” was a picture of meatballs.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Jan 20, 2018
Exploring war through woodblock prints
Sensu014d-e, literally 'war pictures,' are a particularly dramatic form of Japanese woodblock print that emerged as a style of reportage during the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, and went on to become a widespread and popular way of disseminating patriotic imagery during the First Sino and Russo-Japanese wars. The 2017 catalog 'Flash of Light, Fog of War' features 75 of these images.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Jan 16, 2018
The cosmic talents of Noriyoshi Ohrai
It must have been nonstop monsters, warships, hunks and epic boobage for much of Noriyoshi Ohrai's life.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Jan 9, 2018
The elaboration of decoration as art
In the setting of what is probably Tokyo's most stylishly decorated art museum, curator Kasumi Yamaki explains the theme of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum's latest exhibition "Decoration Never Dies, Anyway."
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Dec 12, 2017
Asia in the wings of Japan's art scene
"Tis the season to be jolly ... circumspect. As regards art, despite suggestions from some art professionals that biennials and other recurring art festivals are an exhausted format, 2017 offered up an embarrassment of riches, some more embarrassing than others as it turned out.
CULTURE / Art
Dec 12, 2017
Bohemia along the Sumida: In search of cultural capital
On paper, the Japanese government supports the arts, which are considered important vehicles for promoting Japanese culture globally, enhancing the country's image as a tourist destination and stimulating declining regional economies. But, where does the content for Japan's increasing number of art festivals...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Nov 19, 2017
1968: The year Japan truly raised its voice
During a recent conversation with a student in his sixth year at a university renowned to be an incubator for Japanese politicians, 23-year-old Atsugi Fukuhara tells me that he wants to stay a student forever.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Nov 7, 2017
Be in the right frame of mind for Roger Ballen
In one of Roger Ballen's most well-known images, a picture of F. de Bruin of the Orange Free State prison service, the elderly sergeant looks out at us with the forlorn look of a tired beagle, not at all the face of an enforcer of white supremacy. The subject's belt is slack, his uniform slightly too...

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