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Picks :
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Picks is a monthly sampling of Japan's art scene, offering commentary by a variety of reviewers about exhibitions at museums and galleries in recent weeks, with an emphasis on contemporary art by young artists.

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Tomoaki Ishihara: 34 Light Years
14 July - 12 August 2018
MEM
(Tokyo)
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In the 1980s, after graduating from Kyoto City University of Arts, Ishihara (b. 1959) began making a name for himself with three-dimensional works, notably his nude self-portrait photos printed onto spindle-like canvases, spirals and other irregular shapes. The self-portraits, he says, represent "a single process repeating the steps of turning an image into a body, the body into an image, and the image into an object."
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Fumi Arai: Painting Palette
5 - 17 June 2018
Gallery Fu
(Kanagawa)
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Arai casts a gimlet eye on everyday objects we tend to overlook, eliciting from them discomfiting aspects that she scrupulously commits to canvas. In the titular series shown at this Yokohama gallery, each work portrays the very palette used to paint it. Consequently, both the palette and its painted image change in parallel, but with a slight time lapse -- the painting is never really finished. It's a fascinating effect that might be described as tautological art.
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Tsuyoshi Abe: Control and Daily Life

15 - 25 June 2018
Launch Pad Gallery
(Kanagawa)
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Abe's first solo exhibition is about enumerating the constant stream of information that inundates our daily lives. Among the works are wall hangings printed with circular or square arrays of thousands of numbers. The sequences would appear to be random, but the frequency of certain series, like 0123, seems to hint at some hidden meaning. According to the artist, though, he simply picked numeric strings off of shopping receipts he'd collected.
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Akakilike: Family Photo
22 - 24 June 2018
d-soko
(Tokyo)
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Akakilike is a performance unit consisting of dancer/director Midori Kurata and her technical staff. Family Photo was first performed in 2016 as a joint production by Kurata and photographer Kai Maetani. In this revival, the original performers were joined by dancer Kentaro Sato. The only stage prop is a long narrow folding table of the sort used in conference rooms. If viewed as recollections of a single family, many of the scenes may seem contradictory, but they eloquently express the tensions inherent in family relations.
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im/pulse
2 June - 8 July 2018
Kyoto City University of Arts @KCUA
(Kyoto)
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A group show introducing experiments in "audio-visual ethnography," the composite use of video, photography, sound, art and other media to take cultural anthropology beyond the bounds of conventional written ethnography. The centerpiece was HÍBRIDOS: The Spirits of Brazil, a looping, multiscreen video installation by Vincent Moon and Priscilla Telmon that immerses the viewer in the world of Brazilian spiritual ceremonies. It's a tour de force that imparts a visceral sense of the power of these rituals.
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Momoyo Iijima: Mirror and Buttons - Connecting Two Worlds
11 - 30 July 2018
Galerie Tokyo Humanite
(Tokyo)
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Iijima is known for large installations in which she covers walls with buttons, name tags, furs and the like, or encases old clothing or kitchen utensils in wax in the shapes of houses. Such items are imbued with the memories and emotions of many users. In this show, she covered an entire wall of the gallery with mirror sheeting in which she embedded buttons in five different colors. Hanging in front of the mirror was a white shirt with open buttonholes color-coordinated with the buttons on the wall. A metaphor-laden work indeed.
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Jun Kitagawa: Nude sculpture T-shirt project
12 June - 2 July 2018
ARTnSHELTER
(Tokyo)
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A solo presentation by Kitagawa, who for nearly two decades has pursued his project of covering nude statues about town with T-shirts. Initially it was just a prank, but over time the varied reactions he provoked -- running the gamut from high praise to condemnation -- became a subject of interest in themselves. His running joke has morphed into a device for eliciting human responses in all their diversity, and for pondering the relationship between art and the public sphere.
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Hiroyuki Yamada: The Man Who Became a Photograph
16 June - 16 July 2018
Artzone
(Kyoto)
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When he won the Tokyo Frontline Photo Award 2016 Grand Prix, Hiroyuki Yamada also garnered the opportunity for a solo exhibition at Tokyo's G/P Gallery the following year. As soon it ended, he handed his works over to the gallery and vanished. This Kyoto show was his first since then. Taking cues from his pre-disappearance declaration that "I want to enter inside a photograph," Artzone selected works from several of Yamada's recent series.
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Portraits: Taishi Hirokawa Exhibition

12 June - 2 July 2018

Shadai Gallery
(Tokyo)
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While making his living as a fashion and advertising photographer, Hirokawa is also known for incisive series like Still Crazy (1994), depicting nuclear power plants throughout Japan, and Babel (2015), chronicling changes in the country's landscape after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami of 2011. This recent show took an intriguing approach to his oeuvre, summing up his work since the 1970s under the rubric of "portraits."
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Anju: Beautiful Tomorrow - The World of Boy & Girl
11 July - 28 August 2018
Canon Gallery Shinagawa
(Tokyo)
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Photographer Anju shot her breakout "Boy & Girl Series" between 1990 and 1996. This return to the theme added some 25 recent works to 120 from that period, as well as movies made then and now. Included were new prints of past digital series like Circus Kids, Star People, and Sleepless Dreams. The use in her new work of techniques like foreground blurring and printing on washi paper speaks to her devotion to the capture of revealing images of young people.
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