Newspapers Roundup #5

The past couple weeks’ art and design columns as read in the Japan Times, Daily Yomiuri, and Asahi online newspapers.

In In the News by Paul Baron 2006-11-23 : In Sight/Arts

Cheeky Morimura re-creates momentous times (11/17)

‘With this, my faith in art is at an end!” yells artist Yasumasa Morimura. Standing atop a balcony, he has assumed the identity of Yukio Mishima, and, in the manner of the novelist’s famous, pre-suicide diatribe from 1970, has delivered a stinging rebuke to his fellow Japanese artists for selling out…
TAB event data: Yasumasa Morimura “Seasons of Passion / A Requiem Season One” (until 12/16)

Araki’s true colors shine through in black-and-white (11/17)

One of the difficulties in approaching the work of photographer Nobuyoshi Araki is that there is more than one Nobuyoshi Araki. Internationally, probably his best-known persona is that of Japan’s enfant terrible photographer/pornographer–a curious, greasy little man who binds schoolgirls and pokes his lens up the skirts of prostitutes in the name of art. Araki’s recent output, meanwhile, is a naive attempt at mixed media arts and involves washes of garish color squeegeed over poster-size studio-style portraits.
This less-than-successful body of work pales when compared with the seminal, and the best, Araki…

TAB event data: Nobuyoshi Araki “Tokyo Life” (until 12/24)

A peek into a rich Russian treasure-trove (11/17)

A recent luxury goods “Millionaire Fair” held in Moscow revealed that Russia’s post-communist wealthy like to spend their money on extravagances like gold pacifiers, diamond-encrusted cellphones and tropical islands. This is not really all that different from earlier generations of rich Russians who predated communism. They, too, were known for their outlandish spending habits. They were especially fond of buying fine art, a predilection that shows in the exhibition of paintings from St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum now on display at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art…
TAB event data: “The State Hermitage Museum” Exhibition (until 12/24)

Enigmatic Escher still evades search for certainty (11/17)

What makes an artist’s work truly unique and memorable? This is a question raised by the exhibition of sketches, woodcuts and lithographs by the remarkable Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher (1898-1972) that is now on display at Tokyo’s Bunkamura Museum of Art. What makes Escher so special is that when you see one of his works you instantly know that it can be by no other artist. This is a rare distinction that sets Escher apart as a true original…
TAB event data: “Super Escher” Exhibition (until 2007/01/13)

Voluminous Ohtake retrospective full of fun, colorful creations (11/17)

Shinro Ohtake, 51, has said that since dedicating himself to being an artist, he has not let a day pass without creating something. His endeavors now number in the range of 30,000 artworks spanning painting, illustration, graphic design, installation and also music. More than 2,000 of these pieces have been brought together by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo to present the first large-scale overview of the artist’s prolific output in the exhibition “Shinro Ohtake Zen-kei: Retrospective 1955-2006.” Due to their number, and often their sheer size, many of these works are on display for the first time…
TAB event data: Shinro Ohtake “Zenkei” (until 12/24)

Daily Yomiuri Online : Arts Weekend

Improving reality, with photomontage (11/18)

Collage and Photomontage–the new show at the Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Ebisu, Tokyo–opens with something of a puzzle. The first photo in the show is grainy and obviously old, but apparently neither a collage nor a photomontage. What is it doing here?
Actually, this work is a montage, but not in the sense that one usually thinks of the word–bits of different pictures cut out and glued together for artistic or decorative effect. Marine (1856-59) by Gustave le Gray seems like a normal seascape, but is really two different photos stitched together in a technique forced upon the artist for unavoidable technical reasons…

TAB event data: “Collage and Photomontage” Exhibition (until 12/17)

Wu-Tang rock the bells at 10th anniversary of Resfest digital film festival (11/18)

Nominally a digital film festival, Resfest is a New York-based event that tours around the world showcasing the most interesting examples of short films, music videos, animation, documentaries and other digital film projects. As more than a decade has passed since digital technology started to democratize filmmaking, Resfest is now morphing into an event of broader scope, embracing music, film, design and art…
TAB event data: Resfest | 10 (until 11/26)

The Japan Times Online

Suspended in abstraction (11/23)

‘Maybe there are too many things in Tokyo,” says Katsuhiro Saiki, “because for me, New York City is the only place where I can relax — although I think it could be said that there are too many artists in New York City.”
Best known for atmospheric photographs, the personable and unpretentious Saiki, 37, left Tokyo four years ago, and has found both inspiration and success working out of a live-in studio in the NY borough of Queens. A selection of his new works, including sculptural pieces, are on view in his one-man show, “Suspension,” at the new gallery SCAI X SCAI…

TAB event data: Katsuhiro Saiki “Suspension” (until 12/09)

Japan Folk Crafts Museum celebrates 70th anniversary (11/23)

On first encountering Korean folk paintings, the avid collector Soetsu Yanagi (1889-1961) was so intrigued that he wrote, “The beauty of this Korean painting is beyond compare.”
Yanagi coined the term minga — paintings by the people — in the 1930s to refer to the folk art genre. The collector and scholar felt that the works of anonymous artists deserved recognition, and helped launch the mingei movement to draw attention to folk art from East Asia. In celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Japan Folk Crafts Museum, which Yanagi helped establish, the museum is holding the exhibit “Soetsu Yanagi and the Folk Paintings of Korea,” showcasing 100 Korean folk paintings from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910)…

TAB event data: “Soetsu Yanagi and Korean Folk Painting” Exhibition (until 12/20)

Intimate photography: Tokyo, nostalgia and sex (11/23)

Usually reviews of Nobuyoshi Araki’s work start by pointing out the contradictions “monster,” “genius,” “pornographer,” “artist,” etc. The greatest negative routinely cited is his attitude toward women, photographed smeared with paint or bound in bondage ropes, images that reflect attitudes rooted in Edo’s ancient past or Tokyo’s modern sexual underworld…
TAB event data: Nobuyoshi Araki “Tokyo Life” (until 12/24)

Paul Baron

Paul Baron. Born in 1977 in Paris. After graduating in 2002 from the London College of Communication, he moved to Tokyo to taste Japan's powerful visual culture. He worked for 3 years at Honda R&D as an interaction designer and in 2004 launched Tokyo Art Beat with Olivier and Kosuke. » See other writings


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