Tokyo Art Scene: Into The New World
Translating The Mundane Into Art
Life does not have to be boring and dull, see how these three Japanese artists utilize mundane subject matters to create works of art.
Our ability to view the world differently distinguishes humans from each other. The joy of art is that it allows us to convey our differing perspectives in physical form.
These three exhibitions in Tokyo are currently showcasing works by three Japanese artists who feature mundane subject matters in their crafts; photographer Rinko Kawauchi with children and nature, painter Takeuchi Seiho with backyard animals and Junaida with houses.
See how these three artists from different generations utilize their respective art forms to interpret their own impression of the world.
Rinko Kawauchi established herself as one of Japan’s reputable photographers when she debuted in 2001 with her award-winning photo books “Utatane” and “Hanabi”. She spent the last twenty years exploring her photography subjects and testing the limits of her craft. Kawauchi’s style is characterized by her use of square aspect ratios and closeups, often pivoting her camera on the details of nature such as water droplets and leaves, along with children, whose hands and faceless figures are framed tenderly against backdrops of green.
Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery in Shinjuku is hosting Kawauchi’s solo exhibition entitled “M/E”. The concept of the photography exhibition was conceived based on Kawauchi’s experiences with the pandemic and the relationship she has fostered with mother nature, featuring photographs taken from 2019 during her trip to Iceland and Hokkaido. Through shots of her children playing and peeled apples, Kawauchi reflects on her times during the pandemic as a mother isolated at home with her children
“M/E” also features many past works such as “4%” where Kawauchi explore the use of space and light to portray cosmic imagery and “Yamanami”, a series of photographs depicting the daily activities and interaction of the people residing in Atelier Yamanami, a facility for people with disabilities in Koka, Shiga. The exhibition includes several interactive works and audio-visual experiences that sure spark inspiration for visitors.
- Now through Dec. 18, 2022
- Daily except Mon. from 11 A.M. - 7 P.M.
- 3-20-2 Nishi-shinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo - Map
- 5-minute walk from Hatsudai station
Takeuchi Seiho is one of the masters of nihonga (Japanese painting). After studying in Europe, Seiho began incorporating techniques observed from his trip into his work, integrating traditional Japanese painting materials with Western approaches to realism. To honor 80 years after his passing, the Yamatane Museum of Art in Ebisu is exhibiting a special collection of Takeuchi Seiho’s paintings.
The late nihonga maestro is most known for his portrayals of animals. He would observe movement and take in the little details of the animal’s fur and colors and sketch his subjects in real-time, similar to the practices of impressionism. Through his use of brushes and fondness for adding hints of gold and white colors to his subjects, Seiho adds texture and life to his animals. His most famous work, a painting of a Tabby Cat with piercing teal-colored eyes, is categorized as an Important Cultural Property and is up for display in this exhibit.
Also featured as part of the exhibition are works by Takeuchi’s pupils and artists of his generation. Trends of nihonga and Takeuchi’s influences on succeeding Japanese painters come to light in this commemorative exhibit.
- Now through Dec. 4, 2022
- Daily except Mon. from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.
- 3-12-36 Hiroo, Shibuya City, Tokyo - Map
- Adults: ¥1,300; University and high school student: ¥1,000; Middle school and younger: Free
- 10-minute walk from Ebisu station
Step into illustrator junaida’s world through his solo exhibition “Imaginarium” in Play! Museum in Tachikawa. The picture book artist showcases more than 400 pieces of work from his books, some untitled personal works and public collaboration with companies such as Seibu and Seven-Eleven. The structure of the exhibition space which resembles a snail’s shell brings visitors in circles and into rooms draped with velvet sheets and rows of colorful illustrations.
European-style houses appear in many of junaida’s illustrations; windows that push in and out and chimneys that sprout through roofs that resemble a book’s spine are quite different to Japanese-style houses. Junaida also enjoys drawing children and animals in human clothes and interacting with the houses. His attention to detail must be commended as even the smallest flowers in his drawings have defined lines and striking colors.
Junaida’s personal works take a darker turn with his use of desaturated colors and horror-like imagery. Deformed bodies and unsmiling faces become the subject of many of his illustrations, straying away from the colorful world of Western houses and friendly-looking animals. Visitors can enjoy the Kyoto-based artist’s diverse collection of works in this exhibition.
- Now through Jan. 15, 2023
- Daily from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. (Weekday) 6 P.M. (Weekend)
- 3-1 Green Springs Building W3, 3-1 Midori-cho, Tachikawa-shi, Tokyo - Map
- 10-minute walk from Tachikawa station
As the city transitions to the cooler Autumn weather, warm yourself up in these indoor exhibitions and you might gain a new outlook on how to see the world.