The Museum of Kyoto's current exhibition, "Kyoto Art for Tomorrow," has a history of 60 or so years. For the 2019 edition, the selection of artists was made by committee, based on recommendations by those at Kyoto city and prefecture art universities, gallerists and curators. Presented as a noteworthy emerging cast are 45 artists, all under the age of 40, working in miscellaneous mediums — from lacquer to small-scale mixed-media installations. A special few were awarded distinguished prizes by sponsors, and this year's grand winner, a moving image installation by Yuriko Sasaoka, was a nod to digital media in an exhibition format usually dominated by painting.
Sasaoka trained as an oil painter, though her Best Artist prizewinning "Gyro" is a filmography of a theater stage in miniature, filled with amusing fusions of real-life and animated imagery. The generalized composition borrows conventions of representing the death of the Buddha in which the pantheon and a host of animals gather around the central deity.
Sasaoka's collage of references, however, includes Shinto torii gates, animal heads craftily painted onto outstretched human hands that occasionally close in acts of prayer and an impish figure putting in miles on a treadmill. Captions at the bottom of the screen implore for the acknowledgement of existence and refer to fears of earthquakes, tsunamis and torrential rainfall, admitting "Here is an eternal jail." "Gyro" is a grotesquerie of playfully digitized puppetry, combined with what seems a poignant evocation of the succession of natural disasters afflicting Japan in recent times.