One of Japan’s more famous artists, but still relatively unknown outside the country is Tokyo University professor Yoichiro Kawaguchi (河口洋一郎) whose pioneering work in computer graphics and almost organic CGI creations have been inspiring art students in Japan since the 1970′s. This man was doodling on his computer before I was even born! I saw this work, the Gross Tendril, at Tokyo Design Week last year. It is a good example of his funky pop-art influence sculpture that is clearly grounded in mathematics and algorithm. Maybe you remember the gun toting samurai warriors that I posted a few days ago? Mr. Kawaguchi is from the same little island as those guns – Tanegashima.
At the National Art Center last month I saw this rather large oil painting of what I presume to be a classical Christian motif done in modern manga style. I found it quite decorative while at the same time building on an established style and being nicely executed as well. Definitively one to show the world! I hope young Ms. Shiori Toyoshima (豊島汐里) keeps her art going even after graduating Toyko Zokei University, one of the big five art unis of the city. The title of this work is very fittingly a catholic sounding 救世主之聖母之生涯, loosely translated by myself as “Our Lifelong Savior The Holy Mother”.
From the blog of Janelle Patrick I learned about Denpoin, the big quiet, brooding temple right next to the much more famous Sensoji in Asakusa. After all these years in Tokyo I had never done more than wondering what lies behind the temple but suddenly I learned that there was a whole garden behind those tall walls! The garden is normally closed all year round, but to help raise money for the victims of the earthquake in 2011 the garden and an accompanying art exhibition they have been opened to visitors for just 300 yen. Until May 7th you get the chance to visit one of the most beautiful spots in Tokyo. I talked to the staff and they told me they open the gardens sometimes, for very special occasions but they didn’t know if or when they would open to the public again. On top of the gardens, there was also an exhibition of traditional Japanese art in the form of huge wooden ema, votice picture plates, that is quite probably the most value for money exhibition of Japanese traditional picture art anywhere in the world. If you are only ever going to see one exhibition of traditional Japanese art in your life, this should be it! I have never seen anything nearly as good! All in all, you have only a few days left to see this otherwise hidden part of Tokyo and possibly the greatest collection of ema in Japan!
Here’s one of my favorite graduation works at the National Art Center last week, from the hands of Marie Maruyama (丸山麻莉枝) of the Japan Women’s Art University (日本女子美術大学), a series of what looks like cyborg animals but simple titled “No.4″. When I was young I was an avid reader of the cyberpunk sub-genre of Science Fiction, and I would have adored these back then! A ferret, a rabbit, a dog and mouse in a series of mix media sculptures. Well done Ms. Maruyama!