Tokyobling's Blog

Tokyo University of the Arts – Graduation Show

Posted in Places by tokyobling on January 27, 2014

If you are in Tokyo this week and remotely interested in modern art then you could worse than spending a day at the Tokyo University of the Arts Graduation Works Exhibition. Tokyo Geidai (for short) is one of Japan’s oldest art unis, dating back to 1887, and the campus looks the part of of an old well established art school. Today Geidai has over 2000 graduate students and half that again in post-grads. In a nation of 127 million you can imagine that being accepted as a students is pretty difficult. I consider myself a more than averagely experienced viewer of graduation works and I’d say that the Tokyo University of the Arts excel at sculpture with a quite a few exceptional works produced by grad students every year, although it is impossible to infer the actual studying experience in a school just from the graduation show. For westerners, the schools two most famous alumni might be the composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and the artist Takashi Murakami.

Even if you are not into art itself, attending the graduation show is a great opportunity to see the inside of a Japanese art university, the buildings, the labs and the grounds are quite unique with lots of history and that unique mix of Japanese high tech combined with grotty concrete studio rooms and the little fun details provided by generations of creative students. I took these photos in and around the campus, focusing more on the buildings than on the art. I think I could go back and spend another day or two just picking out details and odd architecture! The place has some fantastic views and rooms.

As it was the first day of the graduation show and also on a Sunday it was very very crowded. I sometimes had to wait quite a bit to get the relatively empty photos of this series. But it also meant that there were lots of interesting artists in place to explain and discuss their work and I spent a lot of time just listening to them describing their work. Artists, especially Japanese, have such a down to earth matter of fact way of talking about art, very different from the way media, critics and auction houses do.

The graduation show goes on until noon on the 31st of January and is located very close to Ueno Park. You can use the JR Ueno, Nippori and Uguisudani stations or the Nezu suway station. Official web site in Japanese is here.

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