Monday, July 20, 2009

six-legged wolves 'n flying daggers

On 18th July Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery opened a large-scale retrospective of Japan 'most exciting' painter - Tomoko Konoike. The exhibition shows Konoike's best-know works featuring her signature characters like six-legged wolves, ball-like creature called mimio, one-leg girls in red sneakers and flying daggers as well as recent installations.

Tomoko Konoike, Untitled, acrilic, pencil, conte on canvas, 2006

Tomoko Konoike, Knifer life, 2000-2001

Tomoko Konoike, The planet is covered by silvery sleep, 2006

photo: Atsushi Nakamichi (Nacasa&Partners) for Mizuma Gallery

Tomoko Konoike,, Mimio-Odyssey, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

exhibition: neoteny

Ryuataro Takahashi with Hiroki Tashiro sculpture Entenka 

Neoteny Japan: Contemporary Artists after 1990s from Takahashi Collection is a traveling exhibition showing 80 works from private collection of Ryutaro Takahashi, a psychiatrist who began acquiring the artworks in early 90s. and who managed to collect over 1,500 pieces of contemporary Japanese art up to date. For comparison Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo owns collection of 4,000 works which covers a period four times as long and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 5,000 pieces. But it is about comparison as Dr. Takahashi has major works by just about every recognized Japanese artist.

However the exhibition seems to concentrate on infantilisation of Japanese society and art as the title suggest* and present childlike sensibility, otaku motifs, introversion and excess with few exceptions like Makoto Aida's A Picture of an Air Raid on New York City (War Picture Returns), already a contemporary classic and few other. Read more

* the term neoteny refers to retention of juvenile physical characteristics well into maturity and well describes the recent infantilisation of Japanese society.

project room: Noriko Yamaguchi

Imaginary character created by Noriko Yamaguchi inspired by mobile phone phenomenon in Japan where cell phone serves as credit card, TV, MP3 player, GPS device, digital camera and PC. Keitai girl is a caricature of this non-personal way of communication. Her bodysuit covered with cell phones keypads suggests her craving for physical communication and sensation.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

interview: Kukiko Nobori

On the occasion of her visit to Poland to represent  Japanese Pavilion during Alternative Biennale I talk to Kukiko Nobori, an independent researcher, about Japanese contemporary art and alternative art spaces.

MR: There's been this debate going on in ARTiT magazine about what is Japanese contemporary art.I would like to ask you the same question - what is Japanese contemporary art and how is it different? Is there anything like japanese-ness in art?
KN: As I have read articles and interviews, or talked with artists in Japan, it seems that some of them are rather conscious about the japanese-ness in their works, but some of them really do not care if they are from Japan and even reject to be categolize as such.
I think now it seems uncomfortable to claim the nationality in contemporary art.
MR: Coming to Japan one have an impression that there are top-notch Contemporary Art Centers/Museum at 'every corner' but not much alternative spaces. I was wondering why is it so, couldn't I just find them as they are so underground or there is no antiestablishment attitude whatsoever?KN: The structure of so-called Japanese contemporary art world is different from that in the West, so it is difficult to define what the 'alternatives' are.
However I think there are many activities organized by artists outside of 'establishments' and museums. The visibility of those activities are less than those in the major contemporary art centres or museums, but once you get involved, it's easy to follow, I think.
MR: It is said that exhibitions become media that reflect condition of contemporary society. What do the exhibitions made in Japan tell us about Japanese society?KN: It was an interesting phenomenon last year that an exhibition of Buddhist statues ('The National Treasure ASHURA and Masterpieces from Kohfukuji') in Tokyo got high attentions from wider audiences and it recorded 946,173 visitors. Some analyzes its big hit according to the way they showed ASHURA as a 'character'.

Who's hot in Japan right now?
KN: Tetsuya Umeda, Ilcommons (i'm not sure if he wants to be called an artist though), Yodogawa Technique

MR: 7 sins of Japanese contemporary art
KN: Complex attitude and feeling towards 'West', failure to communicate with general public, lack of criticism, lack of structural assistance.