Tokyo Art Scene: Prints, Paintings And Photography

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Enjoy some visually stimulating works of 2D art through these special exhibitions featuring rare books, modern paintings and film photography.

This week’s Tokyo Art Scene will introduce three exhibitions centered on 2D art mediums.

Nerima Art Museum will present a private collection of rare books and paintings while taking its visitors on a historical journey on the development of the printing press.

Artizon Museum, most known for its extraordinary modern art exhibitions, will show off its collection through a curated educational exhibit.

Those who favor the grungy aesthetics of film photography can try the Masahisa Fukase retrospective exhibition at the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, which looks into the artist’s personal life and the role of photography in memorializing it.

© Photo by Nadila
Exhibition poster by the museum stairs

Books are usually not the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about visual arts. This temporary exhibit by the Nerima Art Museum suggests that creating books as a physical form always requires some visual aesthetic and craft. Displaying a range of rare books dating back to the 13th century, the exhibition meticulously looks into the history of the print press and the people behind it.

© Photo by Nadila
Reproduction of “the Linaiuoli Tabernacle”, Fra Angelico, 1433-35 by Kijima Takayasu

The displayed works are assembled from the Yoshino Gypsum Collection, consisting mainly of Modern French and nihonga (Japanese) works. The exhibition’s first-floor features book leaves from the 1400s-1500s. Most of these books were written by religious figures and contained much Christian imagery. Take time to revel in the lettering details and the carefully painted images.

© Photo by Nadila
The collection features works by Impressionist painter Camille Pissaro and his son Lucien Pissarro who was fond of wood prints and founded The Eragny Press, a private press based in England.

Move up the museum’s second floor, and you will find more recent artworks, paintings and woodblock prints produced in the past century. Visitors can find the works of Modern European masters such as Camille Pissaro and Pablo Picasso as the exhibit narratives the development of the printing press. The collection is concluded with several works by Japanese painters. Traditional Japanese paintings on scrolls and brushed with soft colors contrasting the European scenes that color canvases.

© Photo by Nadila
Entrance to the exhibition

The emergence of (what we now refer to as) Modern art in the late 1800s changed the trajectory of fine arts. With more artists emerging from the shells of strict and elitist academic art, the visual arts began seeing a diversification of subject matter and personal style. Artizon Museum holds a diverse collection of Modern art accessible to the public through their temporary exhibits.

© Photo by Nadila
The exhibit is organized into three sections: portraits, landscapes and depictions of Paris.

The collection consists of modern artworks by European and Japanese artists. Visitors can find the familiar pastels of Monet, the abstract shapes of Picasso and Paris sceneries as rendered by various painters. Works by notable Japanese artists such as Koide Narashige are also showcased in this exhibition. Separated into three sections, the exhibit highlights the common themes of Modern art—depictions of the everyday. Self-portraits, landscapes of urban streets and people interacting in public spaces, the collection brings forth a window to the 18th century.

© Photo by Nadila
Koide, Narashige. Self Portrait with a Hat, 1924. Visitors can find life-size displays throughout the exhibition.

Some captions do not provide English translations, but the visual experience warrants visiting the Artizon Museum. Take this opportunity to visit the concurrent exhibitions “Selections from the Ishibashi Foundation Collection” which showcases artworks from 16th century to 20th century, and “Dumb Type, 2022: remap” which presents works by Japanese art collective Dumb Type.

© Photo by Nadila
Poster from “Yoko” series next to the exhibition entrance.

For Masahisa Fukase, images transcend death. Through photographs, the Hokkaido-born artist chooses to commemorate his life and his loved ones. The Tokyo Photographic Art Museum in Ebisu is currently exhibiting a retrospective on the Japanese photographer, showing 30 years’ worth of works.

© Photo by Tokyo Photographic Art Museum
Fukase’s wife Yoko appears in many of his photography works.

Fukase’s favorite subject to photograph was his wife, Yoko. She appears in many of his travel photographs and photography series such as “Yugi (Homo Ludence)”—which is presented as an introduction to the retrospective exhibition. His photography series “Yoko,” which exclusively compiles pictures of his wife, features a set of images taken from a bird’s eye view. The camera zooms in on Yoko’s figure, showing off her flashy clothing and beaming smile.

© Photo by Tokyo Photographic Art Museum
Fukase favors monochrome over colored films.

Private life becomes a recurring theme in Fukase’s work. His family and two pet cats became subjects of photographs as well. After his divorce from Yoko and the separation of his family, Fukase continued to show intimate parts of his private life by inserting himself into his images. In his series “Shikei (Private Scenes),” Fukase’s toes and left eye peeks into corners of European and suburban Japanese landscapes. The retrospective exhibit closes off with “Bukubuku”, a series of self-portraits taken in the bathtub. The camera zooms into Fukase’s face and body parts; his silly face while sticking out his tongue gives the images a sense of humor, but it is also strangely intimate.

If you’re itching for inspiration or a change of scenery, these temporary art exhibitions can provide you with a visually stimulating experience as well as a valuable learning opportunity

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