Lucy Birmingham

  • picks May 02, 2009

    Yishay Garbasz

    Some in Japan, on learning of photographer Yishay Garbasz’s Tokyo exhibition, with its images of Nazi death camps, wondered whether her work would only recapitulate the many series already documenting the Holocaust. But the combination of Garbasz’s photos and her mother’s narrative is a very different story: “In My Mother’s Footsteps” quietly reveals Garbasz’s search for her identity as a child of Holocaust survivors.

    Garbasz’s mother, Salla, who never spoke of her Holocaust experiences during the artist’s youth, much later gave her child a ten-thousand-word account of her experiences. Garbasz

  • picks December 22, 2008

    “Haptic”

    The cultures of both Japan and Brazil embrace deeply sensorial temperaments, but their approach to touching––haptic communication––could not be more different. For the Japanese, it’s a private pleasure, and for Brazilians, the Carnival says it all. These contrasting collective viewpoints are explored in “Haptic,” an exhibition curated by the Brazilian-born, New York–based artist Vik Muniz. The six artists––three from Japan and three from Brazil––spent two months working together last fall as part of the Tokyo Wonder Site artist-in-residency program. One of the more successful works here, Aiko

  • picks January 08, 2008

    Soichi Yamaguchi

    Still an undergraduate at GEIDAI, Japan’s prestigious art university, Soichi Yamaguchi won two awards at last year’s GEISAI art fair; this is his first large-scale solo exhibition. On the evidence of his distinctively styled acrylic paintings—precisely rendered phantasmal images of flora and fauna in shades of electric pink, violet, green, and blue—the artist has clearly imbibed his share of manga and the stylized “superflat” works of artist Takashi Murakami. Psychedelic 1960s Pop comes to mind, but the imagery, both inviting and ominous, seems more like the product of a child’s imaginary garden.

  • picks September 04, 2007

    “Le Corbusier: Art and Architecture—A Life of Creativity”

    A seminal figure in the annals of architecture, Le Corbusier (1887–1965) was also an accomplished painter, sculptor, draftsman, writer, urban planner, and designer of automobiles, tapestries, and furniture. Given his profuse productivity, it is difficult to fit him into a genre or produce a comprehensive exhibition of his works. And yet, celebrating the 120th anniversary of his birth, “Le Corbusier: Art and Architecture—A Life of Creativity” creates a skillfully composed picture of this enigmatic personality. Along with about 250 works, the show includes full-scale walk-in room reproductions

  • picks July 31, 2007

    Grayson Perry

    Far from lost in translation, Grayson Perry’s Japanese debut articulates strong Nipponese sensibilities embedded within his signature social satire, “alternative” biting wit, and unabashed honesty. This exhibition includes provocative pots whose imagery, drawn from Perry’s dark and colorful psyche, blend motifs from disparate Japanese historical eras and aesthetic traditions encountered during his stays here as an artist in residence. Cute and perverse, these works articulate much of what lurks beneath Japan’s contradictory social impulses.

    What’s Not to Like?, 2007, is a seminal, seemingly