Tokyo Art Scene: The Spirit of Spring

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We introduce spring themed Photography and Western art exhibitions for you to enjoy in this cool and sunny weather.

Sandwiched between Tokyo’s cold winter and scorching summer is the spring, most famous for the blooming of the cherry (cherry blossom) trees and the sweet colorful dango (rice cakes) that line up in carts during seasonal events. The warm temperature makes it a perfect time for park strolls and festival trips.

This week we introduce three exhibits that convey the essence and feeling of spring.

“Mariko Ohya: Gradation of the Seasons”

© Photo by Nadila
The photo gallery space is located in the left-hand corner of the 2nd-floor shop.

Wagashi are traditional Japanese confectioneries made from regional ingredients such as azuki beans, agar and local sugars. Toraya Confectionery is a long-standing sweets company with headquarters located in Akasaka. They specialize in wagashi, including come on—agar-based red bean cake, monaka—bean paste sandwiched between light wafers and many more. Located in the corner of Toraya Akasaka’s confectionery shop is a mini exhibition by photographer Mariko Ohya.

© Photo by Nadila
The photos are displayed next to special yokan cakes that resemble the images.

Mariko Ohya graduated from the Institute of Photography at Nihon University of Art. Her photography explores the colors and textures in everyday life; in the sunshine that reflects against the pond waters and in the shapes of leaves, Ohya has an eye for the charms of nature and light.

© Photo by Nadila
Some photos are also displayed on the walls.

This photography series features 17 works depicting the vibrant colors and shapes of the various seasons of the year. Accompanying the photos are vibrant come on cakes that mimic the colors and shapes in Ohya’s photographs. Take this opportunity to browse through the store and indulge in some traditional treats.

“Accidentally Wes Anderson”

© Photo by Nadila
Entrance to the exhibition.

Since his feature debut in 1996 with Bottle Rocket, American filmmaker Wes Anderson has developed a style of storytelling that makes his work easily distinguishable among the great pool of 21st-century filmmakers. Whether through his quirky characters that spewed comedic dialogue in a monotone delivery, or the frequent needle drops using bright folk music, Anderson has managed to carve his aesthetic and, in the process, inspired many parodies. “Accidentally Wes Anderson” (AWA) is a growing art collective that pays homage to one of Anderson’s many cinematic languages—his visual style.

© Photo by Nadila
A photo of a taxi taken outside the Hindustan Ambassador in Kolkata, India by Robert Drew.

AWA began in 2017 as a travel bucket list made by spouses Wally and Amanda, and has since grown to be a large community that focuses on sharing landscape photographs around the world. The curated collection of photos, which first started on Instagram, echoes the visuals of Wes Anderson. The exhibition features images of monuments, signage and sceneries shot perfectly symmetrically with bright pastel colors.

© Photo by Nadila
The exhibition set is designed to match the theme of the photos displayed.

The exhibition explores motives in photography as visitors walk through styled rooms showing works with themes such as public transportation, hotels and pools, all of which are recurring settings in Anderson’s films. The set design of the AWA exhibition allows for an immersive experience. Photo spots are scattered throughout the event, and visitors are encouraged to take pictures.

“Painting Love in the Louvre Collections”

© Photo by @love_louvre2023 on Twitter
Entrance to the exhibition.

The blooming flowers, sunny weather and celebrations of Valentine’s Day and White Day during the season brand spring as a romantic time of the year. The National Art Center Tokyo, located in Roppongi, celebrates sakura season through a special exhibition of Western art in collaboration with the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.

© Photo by RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Michel Urtado / distributed by AMF-DNPartcom
Fragonard, Jean-Honoré. The Bolt, 1777-1778.

With the theme of “love,” the special exhibit features works of European art from as early as the 15th century depicting love in various forms. Greek and Roman mythology is a popular subject for painters in the 15th through 19th centuries. Works such as “Apollo and Cyparissus” by Claude-Marie Dubufe and “Nymph and Satyr” by Antoine Watteau illustrate mythical characters expressing erotically charged lust and deep yearning.

© Photo by Fragonard, Jean-Honoré. The Bolt, 1777-1778.
Dubufe, Claude Marie. Apollo and Cyparissus, 1821.

Under the umbrella of “love” is also familial love and Christianity. Virgin Mary and Jesus became a motif in many Western art; notable works such as “The Infant Jesus Asleep” by Lubin Baugin are being loaned by the Louvre Museum for this special exhibition.

The warm season makes an enjoyable stroll, perhaps around the Akasaka Imperial Palace near the Toraya store or an extended art excursion through the many galleries of Roppongi.

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