Julia Friedman

  • View of “Jack McLean,” 2011.
    picks May 13, 2011

    Jack McLean

    Just four days before the devastating Tohoku earthquake of March 11, a new Tokyo gallery opened its doors for its inaugural exhibition, by the Glasgow-born, Tokyo-based artist Jack McLean. “The Container” is a fitting name for the space, since it is, in fact, a shipping container placed in a trendy hair salon in the fashionable Nakameguro district. The show, which consists of mixed-media installation on the inside of the space and a set of pen drawings mounted on the outside, references the Japanese salaryman culture—its hollowness, its uniformity, its constraints.

    Once in the container, the

  • LG Williams/Estate of LG Williams, Imagine Picasso but Better, No. 39, 2010, digital print mounted on Plexiglas, spotlights. Installation view.

    LG Williams/Estate of LG Williams

    LG Williams’s caustic commentary on the state of contemporary art is as poignant as it is funny, and his latest show at the Super Window Project gallery in Kyoto was bound to make one do a double take. Yet there was nothing declamatory or political in what he did or how he did it. In the buildup to the “aha!” moment when his ideas finally revealed themselves, one could simply enjoy the pieces on view—fifteen meticulously produced ink-jet museum labels bearing the titles of missing artworks. The labels themselves are perfect, formally speaking; they could thrive purely on their aesthetic

  • View of “Xavier Veilhan,” 2011.
    picks April 07, 2011

    Xavier Veilhan

    If Xavier Veilhan’s 2009 project for Versailles was an attempt at a visual deconstruction of reality, his solo debut in Tokyo is about the spatial metaphor of gaining altitude. The four sculptures in this show were inspired by the new exhibition space on the seventh floor of the Louis Vuitton building in the neighborhood of Omotesando. According to the artist, it was the sense of the space being suspended above the Tokyo skyline that gave him the ambitious idea of integrating literal weightlessness into the modernist canon, paying homage to Malevich, Calder, Brancusi, and Giacometti.

    The centerpiece

  • Aki Sasamoto, Strange Attractors, 2010. Performance view, Take Ninagawa, Tokyo.
    picks January 13, 2011

    Aki Sasamoto

    This exhibition marks the Japanese debut of Aki Sasamoto’s 2010 installation-performance Strange Attractors, and presents an adaptation of the eponymous piece she contributed to the last Whitney Biennial. The show is a homecoming for the Yokohama-born artist, who is now based in New York. By changing the initial conditions of the work to include new parameters of Japanese language and culture, Sasamoto altered its entire composition.

    In mathematics, a strange attractor is a collection of diverse elements, perceived as a single object, that becomes the final point of a dynamical system. The artist

  • Taiji Matuse, ANF 100465, 2010, still from a color video in HD.
    picks November 04, 2010

    Taiji Matsue

    In “Survey of Time,” Taiji Matsue’s latest exhibition, the artist extends his trademark examination of space from photography to video. Four photographic works on view in the gallery’s front room depict conceptualized landscapes similar to those found in the artist’s first color series, “JP-22,” from 2005. Shot from above, these new photos, with their omitted horizons and exaggerated continuity of landmass, appear at once flat and stereoscopic. Nature, contained by Matsue’s lens, becomes visual metaphor, as geology is transformed into pattern. The alpacas, cars, construction trucks, and solitary

  • Yuuki Matsumura

    Yuuki Matsumura’s exhibition “Almost-Dead Sculpture” was about the suspension of disbelief. The moment viewers entered the gallery, they were challenged to account for what are, ostensibly, oversize crumpled balls of glossy magazine stock featuring provocatively posed nudes. These turned out to be made of paper-thin steel panels with X-rated images printed on them. Matsumura had manipulated the panels to look like crumpled paper—discarded pages torn out of porn magazines—strategically placing the protruding shapes of body parts within these images to emphasize the sculptures’ volume. The

  • Je Hoon Oh, Untangling the Memory, 2010, wool, 10 x 6 x 11”.
    picks September 15, 2010

    “Nanugi Agency”

    Presenting work by nine artists, one of whom also acts as a curator, this exhibition is based on the premise of an imaginary company called the Nanugi Agency, which provides creative solutions for sharing property between former spouses or siblings quarreling over inheritances. According to the narrative whimsically laid out in the accompanying catalogue, the objects on display belong to a recently divorced couple, Mooyoung and Ami Kim, the agency’s first clients, and the installation aims to be read as an advertisement of sorts. The catalogue refers to the artists as “researchers,” each tackling

  • Nobuyoshi Araki

    Two years ago Nobuyoshi Araki, then almost seventy and diagnosed with cancer, completed what he called his “posthumous” cycle: a series of black-and-white photographs onto which he brushed kanji characters meaning “2THESKY, my Ender”—his word-and-image presentiment of death. Araki’s most recent show, “Koki No Shashin: Photographs of a Seventy-Year-Old,” also evoked death, but taken together, the ten new series on view (all 2010) offered a more oblique and conflicted reflection.

    “Chiro” documents the demise of Araki’s beloved cat, a necessarily impermanent aide-mémoire and a mental link of sorts

  • William Eggleston, Kyoto, 2001, light-jet print, 24 x 30”. From the series “Kyoto,” 2001.
    picks July 13, 2010

    William Eggleston

    “Paris-Kyoto” brings together William Eggleston’s scenes from Europe and Asia in the surroundings of a Bauhaus-style Art Deco building set in the midst of a Tokyo city block. The photographs, commissioned over the past decade by the Fondation Cartier, are presented alongside twenty-two drawings. Appropriately, Eggleston’s first museum exhibition in Japan includes a selection of images from his canonical book William Eggleston’s Guide, which accompanied his groundbreaking show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1976.

    This exhibition is built on contrasts and comparisons, both between photography

  • Miwa Yanagi

    Last year was Miwa Yanagi’s annus mirabilis—the year of three solo exhibitions that included the installation Windswept Women: The Old Girls’ Troupe, 2009, at the Japanese Pavilion of the Fifty-third Venice Biennale. This new show combines several photographs from the “Fairy Tales” series, 2004–2006, and a brand-new video, Lullaby, 2010. The artist’s trademark games of scale, which were also important to her Biennale installation, are in evidence here; only now, instead of confronting viewers with giant keepsake frames holding life-size portraits of scantily clad amazons, Yanagi has contained

  • Ohad Matalon, An Unseen Land or It Is All Gone in Reality, 2009–2010, photographic projection, dimensions variable.
    picks April 06, 2010

    Ohad Matalon

    Unlike the usual photography exhibition, where primly mounted images passively await the viewer’s gaze, Ohad Matalon’s latest show makes the unwitting visitor part of the installation. Ten giant projections of photographic negatives overlaid on positives become metaphoric passageways into ten different locales chosen by the artist from an ever-growing bank. The photographs—which were taken in countries including Israel, Jordan, Taiwan, Germany, and Austria—present a variety of uninhabited landscapes, and the featured locations are rotated every few days.

    In a departure from the ubiquitous color

  • MeeNa Park, noncccss, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 62 x 62".
    picks March 20, 2010

    MeeNa Park

    “BCGKMRY,” MeeNa Park’s debut solo exhibition at this gallery, indexes the artist’s resolve to establish her own, nonarbitrary visual order. Consistent with her ongoing engagement of a playful, rule-bending encryption of colors and symbols, the title of the show is an alphabetized anagram of the four subtractive primary colors in commercial printing (cyan, magenta, yellow, and key black) and their secondaries (blue, green, and red). Here, and throughout the exhibition, Park follows her favored paradigm of laying bare the familiar to show its unreliability, then restructuring it into her own