Last Updated:Jul 1, 2007

“Magical Art Life: A Collector’s World” Exhibition

When walking into “Magical Art Life – A Collector’s World” in Tokyo Wonder Site, you can’t help referring to the fact that the collector is a psychiatrist.

Vivid pinks, yellows and greens feature in many of the pop paintings covering the walls from top to bottom. Sculls, aliens and cute (yet somewhat sinister) teddy bears with oversized heads are also recurring motifs. Although the colourful, playful images at first give you the impression that this is a young girl’s collection, on closer inspection you realize that these kawaii faces are not smiling. Large round faces stare through empty eyes – sometimes bodyless, even faceless.

This is Satoshi Okada’s art collection. Member of Art Acephale and host of annual “Magical Art” exhibitions, there is no doubt that he appreciates and understands art, both visually and intellectually. Yet, his collection reveals a taste for a youthful, pop aesthetic of a contemporary sensibility, rather than pretentious, classic high art. However, it is clear that what Okada sees is not merely the “cute” surface, but the frustration and confusion that lies beneath; the flickering lights in one of the larger rooms emphasize this schizophrenic undertone, by only lighting each wall for a mere few seconds before moving to the next.

There is plenty to see at this free exhibition: apart from the main room full of paintings, there is also a wall featuring a collection of gadgets and ornaments, as well as a 2nd floor showing more paintings and sketches. While among his collection are works by famous artists, this seems somewhat irrelevant in appreciating what is essentially a very personal exhibition. I would very much like to know what led the psychiatrist to collect these particular works, but I guess we can only speculate. Well worth seeing.

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Lena Oishi

Lena Oishi

Born in Japan in 1982, grew up in England and Australia. With a BA in Media and Communications and MA in Cinema Studies, she now lives in Tokyo as a freelance translator and occasional editor. Works include VICE Magazine, Japanese editorial supervision of "Metronome No. 11 - <i>What Is To Be Done? Tokyo</i> " (Seikosha, 2007), and translation for film and art festival catalogs. She can also interpret simultaneously if you give her enough candy. Lena likes making her eyeballs bleed after watching way too many films while eating ice cream in the dark.

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