©Photo by The Future Is In The Past—Nigo’s Vintage Archive

Tokyo Art Scene: Beyond Paint and Canvas

The Wonders of Mixed Media

By Nadila
November 3, 2022
Art & Culture

With art, there is always something new to be discovered. If paintings are not for you, maybe try fashion, street art or folk art.

Walk into any art history class or a European art museum, and you will be introduced to an abundance of paintings and painters. The truth is artists worldwide have been stretching the boundaries of visual art by seeking other methods of craft outside of the stroking of brushes on a white canvas. Sewing, pottery and graffiti are just some ways craftsmen have showcased their artistry throughout history.

Here are three Tokyo art exhibitions highlighting mixed media art you can visit this November. 

The Future Is In The Past—Nigo’s Vintage Archive

© Photo by Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum
Exhibition entrance

Picking out clothes to wear for the day might be the most subtle form of art accessible to everyone. Questions of “how do I want to present myself today?” or “what would be comfortable for me to wear tonight?” may cloud our minds as we look through our closets. With fashion, our body is the canvas. Until November 13, “The Future Is In The Past—Nigo’s Vintage Archive” exhibition held in Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum honors this idea by celebrating the history of vintage clothes and their role in working-class American society.

The exhibit is currently displaying some vintage pieces collected by fashion designer Nigo. The exhibition features mainly a vast collection of vintage denim; jeans, jackets, jean jackets, but also infant-sized overalls and two-meter-long clown pants. A collection of vintage sweatshirts and Hawaiian shirts are also up for display. 

© Photo by Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum
Denim jacket displays

The displays’ descriptions encourage the visitors to pay attention to small details such as the placement of pockets and zippers. Visitors can see how the designs change over time to accommodate certain demographics such as farmers and the working class. The exhibition provides a subtle commentary on fashion as an accessible and functional art form.

Now through Sun, Nov. 13, 2022
Daily except Mon from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. (Until 8 P.M. on Fri)
Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum, 1F Shinjuku Bunka Quinto Building, 3-22-7 Yoyogi, Shibuya City, Tokyo - Map
4-7 minute walk from Shinjuku station

Side Core/Everyday Holiday Squad

© Photo by NADiff a/p/a/r/t
Exhibition poster

Nestled in an alleyway in Ebisu is a bookstore specializing in art books. A spiral stairway in the corner of the store leads visitors to a tiny gallery space exhibiting select works by Japanese art groups Side Core and Everyday Holiday Squad. 

© Photo by Nadila
A small painting greets visitors by the entrance staircase.

The gallery features mixed-media artwork including a wood sculpture and several mixed-media pieces involving photography and graffiti. A pair of eyes can be seen peeking through the artwork. The combination of cartoonish figures against a realistic photograph makes a fun visual experience.

© Photo by Nadila
Some of the artwork at the exhibit.

If you are planning a visit to Ebisu, drop by NADiff a/p/a/r/t to see their mini gallery. In the meantime, you can also enjoy a hot cup of coffee at Sarutahiko Coffee five minutes away, or take a stroll to Daikanyama. Walk towards Meguro station and find Tokyo Photographic Art Museum where they are currently exhibiting three special exhibitions

Now through Sun, Nov. 20, 2022
Thu to Sun from 1 P.M. to 7 P.M.
NADiff a/p/a/r/t, 1-18-4 Ebisu Shibuya-ku, Tokyo - Map
7-minute walk from Ebisu station on JR Yamanote line and Tokyo Metro Hibiya line

Soetsu Yanagi and Joseon Crafts

© Photo by Nadila
Entrance to The Japan Folk Crafts Museum.

While the use of mixed media has recently become popularized due to the rise of avant-garde values encouraged by contemporary art, folk craft presents us with great examples of how different mediums can be traced back in time. The Japan Folk Crafts Museum near Tokyo University’s Komaba campus in Meguro city allows visitors to gaze at East Asian folk art.

© Photo by Nadila
Folk painting inside the museum.

The establishment of the museum was prompted by the Mingei movement. Soetsu Yanagi, founder of the museum and leader of the art movement believed in seeing the beauty in ordinary objects. Household goods, jewelry, utensils and paintings by unnamed craftsmen stand inside wooden glass shelves of the museum. The building, which resembles a Japanese-style home instead of an art gallery, juxtaposes the tall modern buildings of urban Tokyo.

© Photo by Nadila
Room displaying Joseon-period crafts.

This month, The Japan Folk Crafts Museum will dedicate some of its space for a collection of Joseon-period crafts. Visitors can find a variety of works ranging from folk paintings to mochi molds.

Now through Wed, Nov. 23, 2022
Daily except Mon from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.
The Japan Folk Crafts Museum, 4-3-33, Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo - Map
5-minute walk from Komaba Todai-mae station on Keio Inokashira line

This short compilation of exhibitions in Tokyo during this month shows how art manifests in different forms. If you want to get inspired, stop by these exhibitions during your visits to Shinjuku and Meguro areas. There is always something for everyone.

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