Midori Matsui

  • picks June 05, 2018

    “Beach, Eyelids, and Curtains: chelfitsch's EIZO-Theater”

    Toshiki Okada is a playwright and the director of the Japanese theater group chelfitsch, which is internationally admired for its intensely emotional yet conceptually controlled minimalist performing style. The group wrings rumors, whispers, and the minute gestures of everyday life to extract the mounting self-doubt and political awareness of Japanese youth. Okada's first museum solo exhibition features eizo theater, a new method of performance that incorporates film projection.

    Collaborating with film director Shinpei Yamada and architect Jo Nagasaka, Okada has fashioned a space in which spectators

  • Yuki Katsura

    Yuki Katsura (1913–1991) was a female pioneer of the avant-garde whose prolific career encompassed the diverse fields of painting, collage, book design, and illustration, as well as writing essays and travelogues. This impressive range was fully on view in the comprehensive retrospective organized by Naoko Seki, the senior curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (MOT), in collaboration with fellow MOT curator Mihoko Nishikawa and the curatorial team at the Shimonoseki City Art Museum (where the show traveled subsequently) to celebrate the centennial of the artist’s birth.

    The installation

  • “Out of Doubt: Roppongi Crossing 2013”

    For this fourth iteration of the Mori Art Museum’s comprehensive triennial of contemporary Japanese art, the institution’s chief curator, Mami Kataoka, is joined by guest curators from the US and Australia. Together, they have selected a group of thirty participants, which (unlike in years past) also includes expatriate Japanese artists and those of Japanese descent: Ei Arakawa, Aki Sasamoto, and Simon Fujiwara, to name a few. The roster is further expanded with work by several postwar artists such as Genpei Akasegawa, Hiroshi Nakamura,

  • “Jikken Kōbō—Experimental Workshop”

    Jikken Kōbō, or Experimental Workshop, was a renowned Japanese art-and-performance collective of exceptional diversity. The group consisted of five visual artists, five composers (some of whom, including Toru Takemitsu, would later achieve international fame), a pianist, a lighting designer, an engineer, and a music critic/poet—all of whom gathered around the well-known art critic Shuzo Takiguchi, who gave the group its name. From 1951 until their disbanding in 1957, they produced and presented experimental stage performances and concerts of avant-garde music, playing pieces composed by

  • Fuyuko Matsui

    With more than one hundred paintings and drawings, Fuyuko Matsui’s solo exhibition “Becoming Friends with All the Children in the World” demonstrated a unique vision that embraces death and the dissolution of identity as a means of inspiring passion for life. The paintings are mostly done in the traditional Nihonga style, with powdered mineral pigments on silk, and Matsui succeeds in showing that this eclectic genre of painting—which was established in the late nineteenth century and amalgamates various classical Japanese and Chinese techniques while accepting Western models of realistic

  • “Metabolism: City in the Future”

    This exhibition is the first ever to provide a comprehensive overview of Metabolism, the internationally acclaimed Japanese avant-garde architectural movement of the 1960s. With a spectacular installation of more than five hundred objects and documents representing some eighty projects, it provides plural contexts for interpreting the movement. The exhibition’s main thesis is that Metabolism inherited the “nation-building” spirit from prewar land-development projects and postwar reconstruction plans for Japanese cities, including Kenzo Tange and others’ master plan for Hiroshima and the Hiroshima

  • Yoko Ono

    This exhibition, held in celebration of Yoko Ono’s winning the Hiroshima Art Prize (an award dedicated to artists who have contributed to the preservation of “the spirit of Hiroshima”), demonstrated the strength of Ono’s art and the ways it is sustained by its confrontation with the absurdities of life and by the artist’s knack for firing the spectator’s imagination while using simple, everyday objects. She teaches us to turn physical perceptions into philosophical interpretations.

    Maintaining Ono’s clean, poetically allusive, open-ended visual vocabulary, the show responded both to the special

  • picks November 16, 2011

    Tomoko Yoneda

    Tomoko Yoneda, an artist known for her cool allegorical photographs of sites of historical trauma, recently turned her lens to a series of Japanese-style houses in Taipei. These homes had belonged to families associated with the imperialist Japanese government and were built between 1895 and 1945, during the colonial occupation. (They include, for instance, the residence of General Wang Shu-Ming, chief of staff under Chiang Kai-shek and a Japanese house at the Beitou Hot Springs, known then as the “Hakone of Taiwan.”) The coexistence of the past and the present in the residences, now abandoned

  • Atsuko Tanaka

    This career-spanning retrospective is Japanese avant-gardist Atsuko Tanaka’s first monographic exhibition in the UK and, gathering ninety pieces under one roof, the most comprehensive in Europe to date.

    This career-spanning retrospective is Japanese avant-gardist Atsuko Tanaka’s first monographic exhibition in the UK and, gathering ninety pieces under one roof, the most comprehensive in Europe to date. Ikon’s thoughtful selection—which will include the artist’s famed 1956 Electric Dress and a re-creation of her 1955 Gutaï installation Work (Bell), as well as numerous later drawings and the eye-popping lacquer paintings made just before her death in 2005—cuts to the heart of her unfailing commitment to isolating the affective qualities of

  • Yokohama Triennale 2011

    The Fourth Yokohama Triennale looks to art as a portal to “magic”—what we intuit to lie beyond or beneath the technologically controlled structures and administrative procedures of our globalized world.

    Taking its thematic title, “Our Magic Hour,” from a sculpture by Ugo Rondinone (in which a billboard-size rainbow of text spells out the same), the Fourth Yokohama Triennale looks to art as a portal to “magic”—what we intuit to lie beyond or beneath the technologically controlled structures and administrative procedures of our globalized world. As the show’s subtitle asks, “How much of the world can we know?” The Yokohama Museum of Art and BankART Studio NYK will serve as primary venues for this psychic expedition, while throughout the city a whole range

  • Yutaka Sone

    Yutaka Sone’s playful pursuit of the imaginary, the realm of fantasy, and physical affects provides a powerful alternative to the prevalent tendency of contemporary Japanese sculpture to simulate subcultural icons. Since his public emergence in 1993, Sone has placed contradiction at the core of his artistic practice, making gratuitous efforts for an apparently incidental purpose, or capturing in sculpture heightened perceptions of specific places—perceptions frequently attained through the disruption of habit by means of travel and athletics—turning the transient effects of light,

  • picks March 11, 2011

    Ryan Gander

    For the sixth edition of the annual art project sponsored by Japan’s Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine, the 1,100-year-old site of Shinto worship in the region of Fukuoka, British artist Ryan Gander has created two indoor installations and four outdoor sculptures, among other works. Among the installations is As Reliable as Change, 2011, a dark, empty room constructed inside the shrine’s treasure hall, wherein a theatrical set offers the simulated sight of the forest outdoors to anyone who glances at a narrow horizontal window set high in a wall. Outside, viewers encounter Metaverse, 2010, which comprises

  • Taro Izumi

    Taro Izumi’s videos and performances combine sheer physical sensation with slapstick gestures that reflect the influence of contemporary cartoons, animation, and computer games. Izumi frequently invents task-based actions that resemble children’s games with simple but absurd rules; by doggedly following such rules in performance, and documenting the process with deliberately fragmented videos that treat images and sounds as pure sensory data, he attains such effects as the spatial and temporal extension of pictorial expression and the evocation of unconscious drives. Izumi’s latest solo show,

  • Teppei Kaneuji

    Teppei Kaneuji gained public recognition with his unusually early retrospective at the Yokohama Museum of Art in Japan in 2009, when he was just thirty-one. Hailed as a representative of a new generation of Japanese artists, Kaneuji uses laborious craftsmanship to dissociate banal products from their habitual contexts. He has been best known for sculptures and collages using everyday products in series such as “White Discharge,” 2002–, quasi-architectural constructions assembling action figures, plastic food models, and other inexpensive small objects, covered with white-painted resin, or “Sea

  • Koki Tanaka

    Koki Tanaka is part of the generation of Japanese artists who emerged in the early 2000s. Responding to the economic recession and limited opportunities of the time, they turned to everyday life for moments of perceptual awakening. Using banal things in a playful way and documenting, by video, the isolated surfaces and movements of objects, Tanaka disrupts conventional relations between objects, treating them as “mere things” released from any utilitarian function or human intent and thereby evading prescribed ways of seeing the actual world. His early video works mainly feature the effects of

  • Jiro Takamatsu

    As a member of the important avant-garde performance group Hi Red Center in the early 1960s, Jiro Takamatsu (1936–1998) became known for humorous interventionist actions. After Hi Red Center disbanded in 1965, Takamatsu continued to work on expanding the field of production and perception—painting shadows, for example, on the white surface of a canvas, tracing a walk in the city with a piece of string, or making sculpture with such everyday materials as bottles, strings, bricks, nets, and logs. Although Takamatsu’s experiments can be seen in parallel with those of Supports/Surfaces and Arte

  • “Heavy Light: Recent Photography and Video from Japan”

    Despite the predominance of cosmopolitanism and mass-media images in 1990s Japanese art, certain artists captured the specificity of contemporary Japanese experience. This exhibition features some eighty photographs and videos by thirteen artists who came of age during the '90s and who work in a vernacular vein.

    Despite the predominance of cosmopolitanism and mass-media images in 1990s Japanese art, certain artists captured the specificity of contemporary Japanese experience. This exhibition features some eighty photographs and videos by thirteen artists who came of age during the ‘90s and who work in a vernacular vein. Offering an alternative to the prevailing characterization of today's Japanese art as “neo-Pop,” the presentation will show, for example, how the work of Daido Moriyama and Yasumasa Morimura has been transformed in younger artists’ work,

  • Kishio Suga

    Kishio Suga is a representative artist of Mono-ha, the Japanese avant-garde movement of the late ’60s and the ’70s, which presented sculpture as a unique object or “thing” that alters spectators’ perceptions rather than as an aesthetic object. Using everyday and industrial materials, and constructing objects with a minimum show of technique, Mono-ha shared its formal and conceptual goals with Minimalism and arte povera. Suga, in particular, emphasized the importance of the relation between created objects and the surrounding space, as well as the mutual impingement of things placed in relation

  • Ryoko Aoki

    Ryoko Aoki exemplifies the tendency among younger Japanese artists to invent an idiosyncratic visual vocabulary by transforming everyday objects and exploring the work of perception through simple childlike actions. Aoki’s main medium is drawing. She accumulates fragments of images from sources such as advertisements, children’s encyclopedias, and fabric designs, creating unique pictures in which far-fetched things are connected through the metonymical associations that condense or displace details. Her neutral lines encourage these associative links: Long trajectories trace contours and connect

  • Yukihisa Isobe

    “Landscape—Yukihisa Isobe, Artist-Ecological Planner,” a retrospective curated by Naoko Seki, provided an excellent overview of the career of a genuine avant-gardist whose work has remained largely unknown to the Japanese public. Born in Tokyo in 1935, Isobe began in the mid-’50s as a post-Informel abstract painter who invented a unique method of overlaying wooden board with emblemlike patterns made of cardboard and plaster. A trip to New York in 1965 changed the course of his career, as he was exposed to the holistic vision and innovative flexibility of Buckminster Fuller’s architecture