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