10 Things in Tokyo: 2020

Art events in and around Tokyo this year

In Features by Jennifer Pastore 2020-01-14

Kazuo Shiraga: A Retrospective
January 11–March 22 @ Tokyo Opera City
The first major retrospective in Tokyo for Gutai leader Kazuo Shiraga (1924–2008) looks back on his career with more than 100 works including his acclaimed “foot paintings” and experimental sculptures, plus drawings, tools, and films of his performances.

Vilhelm Hammershøi and Danish Painting of the 19th Century
January 21–March 26 @ Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
Vilhelm Hammershøi(1864-1916)painted portraits, landscapes, and quiet interior scenes. This exhibition reprises a popular 2008 Hammershøi show, displaying his works and other masterpieces of Danish painting.

Art Sightama (March 14–May 17)
Art Sightama: Saitama Triennale 2020
March 14–May 17 @ Saitama Prefecture
Spread out across Saitama cultural hubs such as The Railway Museum, The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, Saitama Arts Theater, and The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, the second Saitama Trienniale is led by film director Shoji Toyama, who organizes the event around the theme of “flower.” The lineup includes Tahi Saihate, a celebrated poet, and Taro Shinoda, a contemporary artist with a landscaping background who creates nature-inspired installations. Other highlights include works by Fluxus founder Allan Kaprow, the Dutch modernist Frank Bragigand, and performances by the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ichihara Art x Mix 2020
March 20–May 17 @ Ichihara, Chiba
Fram Kitagawa, responsible for events such as the Setouchi International Art Festival, directs the third Ichihara Art x Mix. An hour outside of Tokyo in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture, the program features contemporary art and workshops in the bucolic Boso Peninsula along the Kominato Railway line. The sites of this festival aimed at rural regeneration include shuttered elementary schools remade into contemporary art spaces.

Olafur Eliasson (March 14–June 14)

Olafur Eliasson
March 14–June 14 @ Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
Celebrated Danish-Iceland artist Olafur Eliasson manipulates light, water, mist, and other elements in ecology-themed installations. Stunning photographs of Icelandic landscapes and architectural and design projects are also among the works in this exhibition seeking to “illuminate the environment and society.”

Cosmo-Eggs: Exhibition in Japan of the Japan Pavilion (April 18–June 21)

Cosmo-Eggs: Exhibition in Japan of the Japan Pavilion
April 18–June 21 @ Artizon Museum
Hiroyuki Hattori, director of the Japan Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale, chose the title “Cosmo-Eggs” for his showcase bringing together the creative efforts of artist Motoyuki Shitamichi, composer Taro Yasuno, anthropologist Toshiaki Ishikura, and architect Fuminori Nousaku. Now the curator and artists will reconstruct the show for Tokyo audiences.

Stars: Six Contemporary Artists from Japan to the World (April 13–September 6)

Stars: Six Contemporary Artists from Japan to the World
April 23–September 6 @ Mori Art Museum
In time for the Olympics, Mori Art Museum assembles an exhibition of six contemporary artists who started out in Japan and have made names for themselves on the international stage: Yayoi Kusama, Lee Ufan, Tatsuo Miyajima, Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, and Hiroshi Sugimoto. Their early works and latest pieces are introduced.

Tokyo Sento Festival
May 26–September 6 @ Public baths around Tokyo
This year the city celebrates its rich culture of sento public baths with a festival spotlighting their wall murals and vibrant sense of community. Sento art specialist Mizuki Tanaka welcomes four artists representing the categories of children’s art (at Benten Yu bath in Kichioji), manga (Hachiman Yu in Yoyogi Hachiman), Art Brut (Hagi no Yu in Uguisudani), and contemporary art (Konparu Yu in Ginza). In addition to these four main sentos, hundreds of baths across Tokyo will feature specially designed noren curtains. Participate in the stamp rally and visit as many as you can. Admissions on the first day of the festival (May 26) will be free of charge!

Tokyo Biennale 2020
July 12–September 6 @ Northeastern and Central Tokyo
Taking place at some 100 sites including historical buildings, schools, and public spaces around Tokyo’s Chiyoda, Chuo, Bunkyo, and Taito Wards, the Tokyo Biennale looks to unite art, community, and industry with a variety of exhibits and programs. Headliners include architectural installation artist Rei Naito, sculptor Aiko Miyanaga, and video/performance artist Shino Yanai. Also look for works by Akira Takayama, a coordinator of public art projects, and the prolific plant illustrator Naoki Sato.

Yokohama Triennale 2020 'Afterglow' (July 3–October 11)

Yokohama Triennale 2020 “Afterglow”
July 3–October 11 @ Yokohama Museum of Art and Plot 48 in Yokohama
The Yokohama Trienniale has been held once every three years since 2001. This year it will be helmed by the three-artist Raqs Media Collective from New Delhi. So far an international mix of 19 artists is slated, among them the inflatable-installation artist Eva Fàbregas, e-flux filmmaker Anton Vidokle, and multimedia illustrator Masaharu Sato. Short-term events called “episodes” and reference materials known as “sources” will be at the heart of the festival. The subtitle “Afterglow” refers to human encounters with fragments of light left over from the Big Bang and the birth of the universe.

Jennifer Pastore

Jennifer Pastore. Jennifer Pastore is Tokyo Art Beat's editor. » See other writings


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