This year (as every year) I attended the annual Godai Art University Graduation show at the National Art Center in Tokyo’s Roppongi district. It was full of good stuff as usual and a real treat: nowhere can you get so much contemporary Japanese art as in this exhibition, for such little cost (it is free). I particularly enjoyed one sculpture, “Inisible” by Hifumi Sugata of Joshibi, a sinister looking metal sculpture. This year’s exhibition is over but there is a new on in February – early March next year! Be sure to see it!
I saw this mixed media artwork at the National Art Center’s art university graduation ceremony a couple of weeks ago. The artist, Atsushi Adachi of Zokei University (足立篤史), has created a miniature diorama dream world, complete with train tracks, tunnels, light houses, zeppelins and hangars for airplanes. I love these kind of miniature worlds, like the art of Ichiyo Haga (here and here), the Housing Estate N by Area N, the Papercraft castle, even the diorama hat by O.Moro Design! Another great artist this reminds me of is Takanori Aiba’s miniature cities. Yes, I have a very soft spot for dioramas and miniatures!
If you want to see more of Mr. Adachi’s work you have plenty of chances this spring and summer as he is pretty much exhibiting all through the year. The closest one is at the Tabloid Gallery in Tokyo’s Hinode, March 20th to March 23rd, and then at the Ouchi Gallery in New York’s Brooklyn, first in the end of April early May and then again in June.
It is that time of the year again, the joint graduation exhibition of five largest art universities in Tokyo: Joshibi, Zokei, Gakugei, Musabi and Tamabi (to use their popular nicknames). The sculpture section, which is always my favorite was a little weak this year but a few really good works of art made up for it all. My favorite from this year might be the Sorauma, a horse sculpture in metal and plastic expertly constructed by Kuroudo Tsuji (辻蔵人) from the Musashino Art University (武蔵野美術大学), which looked fantastic against the blue skies over the National Art Center in Tokyo’s Roppongi district. Don’t miss Mr Tsuji’s fantastic undergraduate graduation exhibit two years earlier, the scrap metal fossil that I blogged about here.
If you are in Tokyo, today is your last chance to see this massive exhibition of almost a thousand young artists displaying their best. The entrance is free and nobody minds if you take photos. This is probably the foremost art event in Tokyo!
If you are in Tokyo and interested in Japanese calligraphy, shodo, you might want to and see the 54th annual Nihon Shosakuin exhibition on the second floor of the National Art Center in Roppongi. The exhibition is nothing less than massive, it would take a day or two to just read all of the beautiful calligraphy that is on display. The exhibition runs until the 17th of February, 13:30. Calligraphy came to Japan with the introduction of writing from China and as usual they have made it into a beloved national art form. Almost all schools in Japan teach calligraphy to their students and there are many school clubs dedicated to the subject. Japanese still take great pride in beautiful handwriting and a lot of people keep the tradition of writing with ink and brush alive.
One of the more interesting traditions involving calligraphy is the kakizome (書き初め), the first writing of the new year. In the old days people would write a poem on the the first day of the new year, using ink made from the first water drawn from the well. These days though, many people settle on writing characters that they like or find promising for the new years. I have even seen sets of ink, brushes and paper set out in bars and night clubs in the first few days of the year. It is interesting to see young and old club goers and bar-hoppers sit down and concentrate on this ancient art before getting back on the dance floor or karaoke machine!
Even though this is an ancient art form there are still trends and movements in the styles presented by the different artists, and to my untrained eye the writing looked more subdued than the wild sprawling writing I saw a lot of when I visited the exhibition in 2010.