Ready, Set, Go

Ryoko Kimura’s playful Sugoroku print exhibition examines marriage and images of the Japanese modern male.

poster for Ryoko Kimura

Ryoko Kimura "The Date for Marriage Hunting ♥ SUGOROKU Start!"

at Kido Press, Inc.
in the Chiyoda area
This event has ended - (2010-04-03 - 2010-05-08)

In Reviews by Amy Fox 2010-04-24

It seems highly suitable, and adds to the feeling of adventure, that an exhibition based around the Japanese board game of Sugoroku should be located in the notorious Kiyosumi gallery building

The gallery, Kido Press, is minute, with the print workshop it adjoins poking out from behind the scenes, but this only added to the atmosphere that this is a hidden treasure of an exhibition

Ryoko Kimura has used both a traditional Japanese board game and paint/printing techniques, contrasted with sexually indicative pictures , to describe the modern Japanese man, and the modern Japanese woman’s quest to hunt to one of them down.

The prints of the men themselves are beautifully detailed, and I particularly enjoyed the delicate colour scheme. A personal favourite is the boy dressed in traditional jinbei and mask, beckoning for the female observer to join him at hanabi. Further, one of a boy holding a clear plastic umbrella (for this is surely a symbol of contemporary Japan?) in a traditional garden created a nice contrast of old and new.

Ryoko Kimura, 'Otoko no te-ryori' (Boy's Cooking) 280 x 210mmRyoko Kimura, 'Shinseikatsu' (New Lifestyle) 280 x 210mm

The pictures emphasise the soft and feminine nature of the modern Japanese man, and carry the same “boy next door” connotations as Jpop idol’s promotional pictures (Kimura also designs merchandise for a popular Jpop artist), the gaze always directed invitingly at the woman. The sketch lines in the prints recall clothing sketches, bringing forth a reminder about this society’s love of fashion.

Sugoroku is a game similar to monopoly, in which the aim is to throw dice, and reach the ultimate goal (in this case marriage) , with, of course, various obstacles in the way. Popular in Japan for centuries, players can design their own board, often in the style of old travel routes. Kimura has chosen the journey of the Japanese women to find the perfect man (konkatsu, or, literally “marriage activities”)

Ryoko Kimura, 'Aiaigaza' (Under an Umbrella Together) 280 x 210mmI was recently alerted to the subject of marriage in Japan by a colleague in her late twenties, bemoaning the loss of a long term boyfriend because “now who am I going to marry?”. I was particularly interested in what this exhibition had to say!

I was a little disappointed in this respect, as I had hoped for a stronger feminist point view. One reading is that these boys are placed on a perfect pedestal, and it is up to the woman to do her utmost to respond to their inviting eyes and try and snare one of them.

Aside from the board game, there was a lone standing picture of a girl in a flower with her anus sticking up. This strengthened the connection of the whole exhibition to the anime Mononoke, in which, although different in content, both the human body and the grotesque are explored through a delicate medium.

It is tempting to look too much into this show. In many ways, overall, it is moe for girls. Perhaps not surprisingly, Kimura has a history of depicting young male sexuality in a mischievous and humorous tone. Despite the primary theme of boy-watching, the delicately beautiful aesthetics, coupled with the sense of adventure surrounding the visit to the gallery, meant this was a treat to experience.

Kido Press will also be hosting one of the ongoing “The Art Party” events, to be held in two sessions on May 8. Limited to female participants only, the event will include commentary from the artist and Italian cuisine. For further details, see the Civic Art website.

Amy Fox

Amy Fox. Her story starts in 1985 just north of London in the shoemaking capital of England, Northampton. After a gap year spent in shoe town, she studied at Nottingham Trent University. She spent three years analysing various media from various left wing perspectives, resulting in a B.A in Communication Studies. Her itchy feet got the better of her, thus followed jaunts around America, Europe and Asia, finally settling in Japan. After spending six months in 100% rural Nihon, this “life enriching” experience became a little too “enriching” and she headed to the bright lights of Tokyo to find her fortune. She can now be found working on her photographic and developing skills, with work centred on everyday experiences and her toy animals, raiding rental record shops, updating her blog, sporadically studying Japanese, and making photocopied picture books. » See other writings


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