John L. Tran

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

Michiko Kon: Mistress of the dark

Mar 27, 2018

Michiko Kon: Mistress of the dark

The abominable beauty of Michiko Kon's work is back. In the early 1990s Kon was one of the first female photographic artists from Japan to achieve widespread international recognition. Her work combined a shocking use of animal parts with meticulous technique in a way that ...

Koga: A pithy affair with the avant-garde

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 ...

Time to welcome our robot overlords?

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 ...

The best pick and mix of modern 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 ...

Roni Horn: Ways to present the self

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. Among the straightforward, but nonetheless very beguiling, studio photographs of objects that the New-York based artist ...

Exploring war through woodblock prints

Jan 20, 2018

Exploring war through woodblock prints

Sensō-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 ...

The cosmic talents of Noriyoshi Ohrai

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. The retrospective exhibition, at the Ueno Royal Museum, of this incredibly prolific illustrator's work is a frenzied and spectacularly schlocky cosmos of sci-fi and action movie posters, magazines, ...

The elaboration of decoration as 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." "I've always wondered what the audience are thinking when they use the ...

Asia in the wings of Japan's art scene

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. The ...

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 actually ...