Outdoor art exhibition comes with instruction from the artists on show


Staff Writer

It’s not often you can talk to artists when viewing their works, but it’s possible at the annual “Trolls in the Park 2012.”

With Zenpukuji Park in Tokyo’s Suginami Ward serving as the venue, the alfresco art exhibition starts out with a tour headed by the participating artists. Becoming informed first hand of what the artists were thinking when they created their pieces is rare enough, but doing it while strolling through an exuberance of foliage and flowers is definitely an added bonus.

Participating artists include Motoko Hoshi, a self-described “artist of words.” As a former advertising copywriter, Hoshi recalls being regularly bedeviled by the rhetorical complexity of written Japanese and struggling to overcome its occasional untranslatability. This occupational frustration eventually paved the way for her years-long quest as an artist of finding a universally comprehensible way to express Japanese kanji. Hence her invention of a quasi-poem typological art called motokotoba. Typically, she selects four kanji characters per piece, and prints them in a striking way so that onlookers can enjoy guessing their meanings, which brings them above linguistic limitations.

Another featured artist is Seico Kawai, whose speciality is Japanese yōkai (monsters). Kawai has endeavoured to overturn the typical image of yōkai being ugly and spooky by highlighting their humorous qualities. In preparation for her participation in the exhibition, Kawai asked local schoolchildren to visualize and invent their own yōkai. She asked them to recall “strange” incidents they had encountered in their daily lives, and imagine what mischievous yōkai were to blame. Therefore, many of the creative yōkai in her works are inspired by those children’s anecdotes.

There will also be stage performances during the 20-day event by dancers, dramatists, musicians and mimes.

“Trolls in the Park 2012: Open Air Art Exhibition” takes place at Zenpukuji Park and its surrounding area in Suginami-ku, Tokyo, from Nov. 3-23. For more information, visit www.trollsinthepark.com.