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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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Hideyuki Nakayama: ", and then"
23 May - 4 August 2019
TOTO Gallery-MA
(Tokyo)
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Films at architectural exhibitions are usually appurtenant to the exhibits, but here, six short films about Nakayama's works are the main attraction. The films document of how residences are used by their occupants after the architect's work is finished, hence the title. The fourth floor of the venue functions as a movie theater, "CINE-MA," for the occasion, while the third floor is devoted to documents, drawings, and models associated with the films.
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The Story of Seibei Kajima, the "Millionaire Photographer" in the Meiji Period
1 June - 31 August 2019
FujiFilm Square Photo History Museum, Tokyo
(Tokyo)
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This is a rare opportunity to find out what sort of photographer Seibei really was. Unfortunately, due to reported difficulties obtaining the originals, most of the prints one can see here are reproductions. The good news is that digital reproduction technology has advanced so far that they are impressively close to the originals in impact. In any case they are more than adequate proof of Seibei's considerable talents as a photographer, belying his reputation as a hobbyist with deep pockets.
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Miyamoto Ryuji: Invisible Land

14 May - 15 July 2019
Tokyo Photographic Art Museum
(Tokyo)
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The photographs on display here reveal that beneath Miyamoto's perennial motifs of cities and architecture lie softer strata of humanity, nature, and everyday life. Compared to his previous series, this one evinces a gentler touch in his approach to the people and environments of the southern islands where his parents were born.
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Graphic Trial 2019: Exciting
13 April - 15 July 2019
Printing Museum, Tokyo
(Tokyo)
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This project paired four graphic designers (Kaoru Kasai, Theseus Chan, Yui Takada and Satoru Yamamoto) with four printing directors from museum proprietor Toppan Printing in collaborative efforts to produce new forms of expression through offset printing. One thing the show makes clear is how crucial a talented printing director is to such undertakings. Both the process and results of these collaborations are born of creative dialogue at a very high level.
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Kikuji Kawada: Shadow in the Shadow
29 May - 5 July 2019
PGI
(Tokyo)
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Veteran photographer Kawada (b. 1933) began posting photos to Instagram in January 2018. This exhibition presents some 50 prints selected from the 370 images he uploaded on a near-daily basis until May this year. Although the works are divided into three parts, Kawada says that he mixed the three series together for the occasion to form an "image scroll" in the iji-dozu style, showing events occurring at different times in the same picture. Instagram seems to be a refreshing stimulus for Kawada, one that promises to spur him toward as yet unknown modes of expression.
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Enrico Isamu Oyama Solo Exhibition: VIRAL
18 May - 17 November 2019
The Nakamura Keith Haring Collection
(Yamanashi)
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Oyama was invited to exhibit at this museum for the obvious reason that his work, like Haring's, is graffiti-inspired. The title may evoke the virus-like manner in which graffiti has spread through society, as well as the AIDS virus that killed Haring, but also the global reach of his art. Oyama's work is noteworthy for a powerful prevailing motif he calls the Quick Turn Structure.
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Gustav Klimt: Vienna - Japan 1900
23 April - 10 July 2019
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
(Tokyo)
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As part of this year's commemoration of 150 years of diplomatic relations between Japan and Austria, several Tokyo museums are holding exhibitions featuring Klimt. This one focuses on the relationship between the artist's life and Japanese art. Taking pride of place is his masterpiece Judith I, an icon of fin-de-siècle Viennese painting. The solid foregrounding of the subject's body and its contrast with a flat background that uses ample amounts of gold leaf are elements that not only characterize much of Klimt's work but also clearly demonstrate the influence of Japanese art.
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Fermentation Tourism Nippon
26 April - 8 July 2019
d47 Museum
(Tokyo)
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Subtitled "A journey to rediscover Japan through fermentation" (and fittingly sponsored by Calpis, makers of a fermented milk drink), this is an event for fermentation maniacs if there ever was one. Curated by "fermentation designer" Hiraku Ogura, it introduces fermented products from all 47 prefectures in geography-based categories: fermentation of the sea, mountains, islands, and towns respectively. The gallery is festooned with photos of the places and people Ogura has visited in his quest as well as texts recording his impressions of them, enabling viewers to vicariously share his enthusiasm for all things fermented.
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Eye Ohashi: arche

18 May - 29 June 2019

Poetic Scape
(Tokyo)
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An introduction to Ohashi's recent project shooting photos of students and their environment at her alma mater, Kanrei Shirayuri Gakuen, located in the mountains of Hakone. The school, which relocated there from Tokyo to escape the air raids near the end of World War II, offered a liberal curriculum in a verdant natural setting. The series title, meaning "ark" in French, reflects Ohashi's experience of the school as a protective, sheltering place, which she revisits and reevaluates in light of subsequent tragic experiences in her own life.
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Nobuyoshi Araki: Umegaoka Elegy
25 May - 15 June 2019
Taka Ishii Gallery
(Tokyo)
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Umegaoka is the name of the train station nearest Araki's current residence along Tokyo's Odakyu Line. With just a few exceptions, the venerable photographer snapped these images inside his apartment or on the roof. There is an undeniable undercurrent of sorrow in every shot, making the exhibition a poignant viewing experience. One wonders how much longer Araki will be able to continue holding solo shows like this one, but this reviewer for one hopes to see them all to the end.
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