Tokyo Art Scene: Challenging The World Today
Looking Into Modern and Contemporary Art
January 26, 2023
Art & Culture
This week we introduce you to three on-going exhibitions featuring modern design and contemporary artists, each raising questions about the state of the world we live in.
Historically, the appearance of art movements has been triggered by a certain social and economic phenomenon along with the curiosity of artists. Seeing how creatives have learned, emulated and evolved from their predecessors, the contemporary scene brings excitement for what current and future artists can bring to the table.
“The Polyphony of Function and Decoration”
Located in Meguro is the Former Residence of Prince Asaka, a mansion surrounded by vast gardens. Since 1983, the establishment has been utilized as an art museum under Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum. The building was the result of a collaboration between several artists, among them are French painter Henri Rapin who designed the interior and architect Gondo Yokichi. With high dome ceilings, large windows and chandeliers, the architecture is a departure from the traditional washitsu housing style. Appropriately, the museum is currently exhibiting a retrospective on modern European design.
With a collection of works spanning the first half of the 20th century, the exhibition explores the post-war social context in which artistic trends and designs were birthed. The selection of works includes several textile designs by female artists of Austria’s Wiener Werkstätte production association, chairs and kitchen utensils by Bauhaus designers and many household objects designed by some of Europe’s greatest artists.
The exhibition explores how modern European design has been influenced by social context. At that time, the post-war world allowed artists of different nations to interact and learn from each other, along with the growing consumption that popularized fashion, interior design and household goods.
- Now through Mar. 5, 2023
- Daily except Mon. from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M.
- Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, 5-21-9 Shirokanedai, Minato-ku - Map
- ¥1,400 (Adults), ¥1,120 (University students), ¥700 (Middle & high-school students and Senior over 65)
- 7-minute walk from Meguro Station
One of Japan’s most experimental and dynamic artists of today is Shinro Ohtake. With a large body of work, Ohtake refuses to be pinned to a specific style or medium. Since the start of his endeavor towards the arts, he has published books, started sound projects and designed a bathhouse. This special exhibition is a great opportunity to discover more about the Japanese contemporary artist, his experiences and philosophy that drives his work.
Stepping into the exhibit, you may notice Ohtake’s seemingly incoherent style. The Japanese artist’s love for experimentation comes forward through his use of multiple art mediums ranging from realistic oil portraits to abstract sculptures made from decaying scraps. The solo exhibit also features an extensive collection of Ohtake’s collages assembled from magazine cutouts, paint chips, stamps or whatever objects found during the artist’s worldwide travels.
The last part of the retrospective features some of Ohtake’s audio works. Sound has grown to become an important part of Ohtake’s artistic notions, which motivated him to experiment with the use of audio in his visual works and the expansion of the music scene as well.
- Now through Feb. 5, 2023
- Daily except Mon. from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. (until 8 P.M. on Fridays & Saturdays)
- The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 3-1 Kitanomaru-koen, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo - Map
- ¥1,500 (Adults), ¥1,000 (University), Free (High-school students & UNDER 18 and those with Disability Certificates & one caregiver accompanying)
- 3-minute walk from Takebashi Station
“Wendelien Van Oldenborgh, Unset on-set”
Wendelien van Oldenborgh is one of today’s contemporary artists exploring the language of cinema while raising questions about and critiques of dominant discourses and power structures. The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo is currently showing Van Oldenborgh’s first solo exhibition in Japan, featuring six film works. The selection includes the debut of her most recent work, which was filmed in Tokyo and Yokohama and features two Japanese female writers.
Through her film works, Van Oldenborgh invites the audience to discuss the conditions and framework we live in. Topics of colonialism emerge in Maurits Script (2006) and No False Echoes (2008), addressing how the legacies of Western hegemony still affect people today. Gender is also a theme introduced in Van Oldenborgh’s work, such as in her most recent of girls (2022). Located in the corners of the exhibit are reading corners providing materials relevant to the discussions raised in the films.
While Van Oldenborgh raises many heavy questions in her work, her artistry also shines through in this exhibit. Van Oldenborgh utilizes a documentary film style, often gravitating away from scripts and allowing her subjects to explore topics freely. Her curiosity can also be found in her experimentation with layers, displayed through her use of lenticular prints and the layering of audio and image in her film works.
Concurrently being exhibited at the museum is “MOT Collection: Rewinding the Collection 2nd” (admission included with tickets for the special exhibits) and “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams.”
- Now through Feb. 19, 2023
- Daily except Mon. from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M.
- Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, 4-1-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku, Tokyo - Map
- ¥1,300 (Adults), ¥900 (University students and Senior over 65), ¥700 (Middle & high-school students), Free (Elementary students and under)
- 9-15 minute walk from Kiyosumi-shirakawa Station, 15-minute walk from Kiba Station
Pair your exhibition visits with an appreciation for nature by taking a brief pit stop at The Institute for Nature Study right behind the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, Kitanomaru Park near The National Museum of Modern Art or Kiba park by the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo.