Posted:Jul 30, 2019

10 Things in Tokyo: April 2019

Events and exhibitions happening this month in Tokyo and beyond

Lieko Shiga's 'Human Spring' at Tokyo Photographic Art Museum
Lieko Shiga's 'Human Spring' at Tokyo Photographic Art Museum

“Museum Collection III – All of the Contemporary Art Collection” spotlights Setagaya Art Museum’s paintings and sculptures by nine West and Central African artists including Saka Acquaye, El Anatsui, and Sokari Douglas Camp. Also through April 7, Pierre Sernet & Shunga at Chanel Nexus Hall pairs the French photographer’s nude silhouette images with erotic woodblock prints from centuries past.

Fluxus artist Mieko Satomi is a disciple of Nam Jun Paik as well as a pioneering musical improvisationalist. Installation artist Takuma Uematsu, who has been impressed with Satomi’s auditory performances from a young age, now teams up with her for Exploring the Stars at Yumiko Chiba Associates in Shinjuku. Through sound installations, the two meditate on the laws of nature and the different ways we all view the world. Ends April 27.

The Nakameguro gallery Poetic Scape features Anne-Sophie Guillet’s Inner Self, a series of portraits of people who do not fit the gender binary. The Brussels-based photographer considers the roles of appearance in society and the ways identity is formed. Through April 27.

Human Spring is the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum solo for innovative camerawoman Lieko Shiga. Working from the Tohoku region, she presents new images on wall-height blocks that show life in Japan today, capturing it in various states of demolition and vivacity. In high-contrast fluorescence, people picnic, lounge, and link arms as they walk covered in mud through the wilderness. The muse of all of this is an unnamed man who might be considered a stand in for life’s “cruelty and grandeur” – and for spring itself. Until May 6.

There’s good art and there’s bad art, and then there’s art that’s so terrible it has its own kind of charm. Perverse Japanese Art: From Zen Painting to Heta-Uma displays the warped masterpieces of shoguns, monks, and other self-appointed artists who clearly cared more about expression than skill. “Heta-uma” translates to “bad-good,” and if you’ve ever wondered what that means, look no further than Iemitsu Tokugawa’s bug-eyed, mustachioed rabbit drawing. At Fuchu Art Museum through May 12. TABapp and MuPon subscribers receive admission discounts.

Blum & Poe features the Korean Dansaekhwa artist Ha Chong-Hyun. Since the 1960s, this painter has been experimenting with materiality through unconventional materials and methods such as soaking, tearing, and heating the canvas. An excellent companion show is the Kazuo Shiraga Exhibition at Fergus McCaffrey, Tokyo, which highlights the long career of a Gutai artist also known for avant-garde approaches. Shiraga used his body rather than a brush, painting with his feet or suspending himself over his works in progress. Both exhibitions end May 18.

Kenkichi Yoshida and His Tiny 12-Tsubo House–Secrets of Dramatic Space Design reveals the architectural innovations of a postwar stage designer who built his family a cozy but functional space in fewer than 40 square meters. Get a “backstage” look at how Yoshida’s profession and personality influenced his take on the fundamentals of home design. At Lixil Gallery in the Ginza area through May 25.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo has reopened its doors after three years of renovations, welcoming the public back with Weavers of Worlds – A Century of Flux in Japanese Modern/Contemporary Art. Stroll through approximately 100 years of Japanese art history – from the 1910s through the 2010s – at this collection show about how artists draw from and selectively recreate their environments. TABapp and MuPon subscribers receive discounts. Ends June 16.

Jennifer Pastore

Jennifer Pastore

Jennifer Pastore is a writer, editor, and translator. She was editor of Tokyo Art Beat's web magazine from 2015 to 2022. Her thoughts on the Japanese art scene can be found in publications like artscape Japan.