©Photo by Photo by Nadila. Shigeru, Nakano. Pony Express, 1999.

Tokyo Art Scene: An Anthology of Contemporary Art

The Art of Curation

By Nadila
March 9, 2023
Art & Culture

From graphic design to contemporary art, here are three curated exhibitions to visit this month which features works by an array of artists.

In Tokyo, visiting museums is a form of leisure. They provide a window to history and knowledge, a space to relax and enjoy aesthetics, and a chance to spend time with family and friends. We should all thank exhibition curators—our unsung heroes—for our enjoyable museum experiences. Curation is the organization of an exhibition or collection involving selecting works and structuring the flow.

The three art exhibitions we introduce this week are curated under exciting themes, such as global warming and postwar society, with a collection of works by numerous Japanese artists.

Anatomy of the Museum Collection Ⅱ: Featuring the Works from the Years after the 1970’s

© Photo by Nadila
Entrance to Meguro Museum of Art

Meguro Museum of Art, Tokyo, commemorates its 35th anniversary in November 2022 with a series of temporary art exhibits beginning in April last year. Extending the celebration until this March, the establishment presents the second chapter of its museum collection with the theme of contemporary Japanese art.

© Photo by Nadila
Usami, Keiji. Ghost Plan in Process: Profiles, 1972.

Including works by notable artists such as Tadashi Kawamata and Korean artist Lee U-fan, the exhibition centers on Japan-based international contemporary artists. In the context of a postwar world, many of these creatives look to Europe and the United States for inspiration. A closer look shows how the visual arts evolved to allow more experimentation and exploration of social issues. The selection of works presents diverse mediums and materials, ranging from photography, minimalist paintings and large models.

© Photo by Nadila
Murakami, Tomoharu. Portfolio “psalm 1”, 1979.

From the Terada Collection 075: Works on Paper by Sculptors” 

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After exiting the concurring Izumi Taro exhibition, take the stairs to the 4th floor, where you will find the entrance to the Terada Collection exhibit.

Standing tall among the tall Shinjuku skyscrapers is Tokyo Opera City Tower, which houses numerous office spaces, concert halls and an art gallery. To honor Terada Kotaro—a partner of the building’s redevelopment project—Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery will showcase artworks from the Terada Collection. Once part of Terada’s collection and has since been donated to the establishment, the collection features over 3,700 items. This month’s curated exhibition revolves around the theme of 2D works by 3D artists.

© Photo by Nadila
Drawings and prints by Funakoshi Katsura line up the exhibition halls. Across (not pictured), is a collection of his sculptor father, Funakoshi Yasutake’s 2D works.

“Works on Paper by Sculptors” presents an exciting look into the conceptualization and early developments of 3-dimensional artworks. The theme of this exhibit provides the opportunity to unveil the artists’ thought processes, from forming of the idea to sketches and making the final product. Visitors may take note of recurring motifs and symbols that emerge throughout the creative process. Comparison between the finished sculpted work and its 2D version reveals changes and omitted elements.

© Photo by Nadila
Hotai Tomoyuki. Untitled, 1993 (left) and The Heart Coffer, 2003 (right).

Expanding beyond simple sketches, these sculptors explore diverse mediums such as prints and aquatint to expand their sculpture ideas. One of the artists featured in the exhibit is Hotai Tomoyuki, whose fondness for boats are reflected in the shapes of his human sculptures. Early conceptualization of his figures are displayed next to the final product. From charcoal sketches to abstract paintings on wood blocks, Hotai’s use of the 2D medium captures not only the structure of his sculptures but the essence of his piece.

Admissions to the Terada Collection exhibit includes access to an Izumi Taro special exhibit and project N which spotlights up-and-coming artist Kawato Aya.

Urgent!! The Animals’ Conference: From the DNP Graphic Design Archives Collection” 

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Entrance to ginza graphic gallery.

The ginza graphic gallery (ggg) has been around since 1986 as an effort by Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd to celebrate graphic design. Throughout March, the gallery located amongst the high-end shops of Ginza will be exhibiting several works by Japanese graphic artists under the theme of animals. A greeting message from the organizers expressed that this exhibition is a form of social critique against climate change and human’s lack of endeavor in tackling the issue. By putting the imagery of animals as a spotlight, they hope that audiences can understand the vital role animals play in our earth.

© Photo by Nadila
The posters displayed in this exhibit all feature animal imagery.

You can find graphic design works in this gallery exhibit by various Japanese artists. Images of animals take center, each artist depicting earth’s creatures in their style. Many posters were designed for commercial purposes as advertisement material. You might find logos of famous department stores, designers, and alcohol brands. 

© Photo by Nadila
The collection of graphic posters includes commercial and promotional posters for department stores, fashion brands and events.

The exhibition extends from the basement floor to the ground floor. Head over to ginza graphic gallery’s library on the 2nd floor and find a selection of animal-themed posters by European and American artists. Take this opportunity to browse their catalog of past exhibitions and graphic artists. 

We hope these exhibits can give you a better glimpse at the art of curation.

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