Artists: Sayaka Abe, Genpei Akasegawa, Ryoko Aoki, Arima, CHIM↑POM, FINGER POINTING WORKER, Takahiko Iimura, Sun Ito, Masaru Iwai, Takahiro Iwasaki, Teppei Kaneuji, Tsubata Kato, Junko Kido, Takayoshi Kitagawa, Kengo Kito, Fumiko Kobayashi, Meiro Koizumi, Mami Kosemura, Yamamoto Masao, Shimon Minamikawa, Hidenori Mitsue, Toshihiko Mitsuya, Yumiko Morisue, Shinji Ohmaki, Katsumi Omori, Hiroe Saeki, Aturu Sato, Kei Takemura, Kazuyuki Takezaki, Keiichi Tanaami, Yuken Terya, Momoyo Torimitsu, Naoyuki Tsuji, Ryohei Usui, Mai Yamashita, Naoto Kobayashi, Ryohei Yanagihara, Yuicchi Yokoyama
A major retrospective of contemporary Japanese art opens at Kunsthal KAdE this fall. A group exhibition involving 37 contemporary Japanese artists. For the past fifteen years, Takashi Murakami stole the show with his Manga and Anime-oriented cartoon figuration. His style of work dominated exhibitions on contemporary Japanese art in Europe and the United States. KAdE shows in the exhibition "Now Japan" that many other artistic positions are being taken on the archipelago, both aesthetically and substantively. One focus is artistic production following the Fukushima tsunami disaster in 2011.
Unlike many other "non-Western" countries, Japanese artists have been involved in virtually every international movement since World War II: in the "informals" (Gutai movement), in Op Art (Soto), in Fluxus (Yoko Ono), in the conceptuals (On Kawara), in performance art (Yayoi Kusama) and in the postmodernists (Murakami). In the diffuse and pluralistic field of contemporary art, artistic positions are increasingly individual. There is no longer any question of movements, but rather of attitudes and "trends. Such movements have a universal, 'global' character, but are also often colored locally. Thus there is 'Japanness' in the works selected for the exhibition, but at the same time the artists involved cannot be framed only in their local culture.
Zen philosophy as a fundamental part of Japanese art
No one concerned with Japan or Japanese art can escape the "zen" philosophy that is a fundamental part of Japanese life and thus colors artistic production. 'Now Japan' shows how the age-old philosophical concept is kept current in contemporary Japanese art. It is in the work of artists such as Zon Ito, Hiroe Saeki, Yamamoto Masao and Shinji Ohmaki, but it is an underlay in much more work, even if not always explicitly. In the late 1980s, Ryohei Iimura made the film "Space/Time in the Garden of Ryoan-Ji ', in which he meticulously explores the world-famous Zen garden in Kyoto with a camera. This film, among others, will be shown in the exhibition.
Another striking aspect of contemporary Japanese art is its deep roots in cultural and craft traditions. In particular, craftsmanship - "handcraft" - characterizes many aspects of Japanese culture. In everyday life, you see many perfectly made or perfectly finished objects or attributes. This care for detail can also be seen in Japanese art. Japanese artists do not deny traditions, but let them be reflected in their work in a natural way. The "West" has a much more complicated relationship with tradition. Since the 20th century, the idea of progress dominates and 'tradition' is considered regressive and is even somewhat suspect. 'Traditional' has become a swear word. Not so in Japan. Contemporary Japanese artists deal with this theme in a subtle, natural way, working from their strong cultural tradition.
Impact double disaster in Fukushima (2011); more engaged art
Part of the show at KAdE will focus on the new artistic positions taken after the double Fukushima disaster (tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis), which occurred in March 2011 and had a noticeable impact on artists in Japan. Many artists became closely involved. They went to the disaster area to help, set up numerous fundraising campaigns (especially also abroad, including the Netherlands) and eventually began to reflect on it in their artworks. How can you as an artist work in the "eye" of such a disaster? Among others, the group Chim↑Pom plays an active role in this. They organized an exhibition in spring 2012 at the Watari'um Museum in Tokyo on 'activist' art, which is still a fairly young focus within contemporary art in Japan. 'Social critique' is not at all obvious in Japan, but gained considerable momentum after the tsunami disaster. Other artists in the exhibition who - besides Chim↑Pom - deal with this theme are Tsubasa Kato, Katsumi Omori, Kengo Kito, Yuken Teruya and Ryohei Usui. An important work in this context is "The Finger Pointing Worker": a video work of a man dressed in a special suit against radioactivity pointing at a camera. This camera is a webcam focused 24 hours a day on Fukushima's damaged nuclear reactor. The action by the artist - who wishes to remain anonymous - caused quite a stir at the time of the performance by going against social codes. "Engaged art" is a relatively new genre within Japanese art.
Although we leave Takashi Murakami and his Superflat movement 'to the left,' the theme he refers to does come up in 'Now Japan.' In the 1980s, the term "kawaii," which means as much as "cute," emerged in Japanese youth culture. Combined with the culture of manga comics, anime and avatars, this creates a stream of 'cartoon'-like figuration in the work of Takashi Murakami and his group. In the exhibition "Now Japan," Momoyo Morimitsu ironically references the concept of "kawaii," in the form of a hugely inflated "cute" rabbit wedged uncomfortably between floor and ceiling. The graphic artist Ryohei Yanagihara created stylized figuration in the 1950s that is a prelude to the mascot-like cartoon characters within 'kawaii' culture. The artist Keiichi Tanaami made collages and silkscreens in the 1960s and 1970s that are a precursor to the pictorial program of 'Superflat'. Furthermore, we show the "real" Manga artist Yuichi Yokoyama, who has an abstract way of working that falls within the realm of autonomous visual art. Apart from the above perspectives, in 'Now Japan,' KAdE shows artists who, in their own way, represent the complexity of Japanese everyday life to create the most complete picture possible. The installation by Sayake Abe - living in Amsterdam - is about the personal experiences of a woman in the Fukushima disaster area and the poor communication about the events - even now - that she must deal with. Teppei Kaneuji builds a large "snowy" landscape that, upon closer inspection, is constructed of plastic consumer goods. Arturo Sato creates a large wall drawing, with a dense web of figuration tumbling over each other.
Sayaka ABE (1980) | Genpei AKASEGAWA (1937) | Ryoko AOKI (1973) | Kaoru ARIMA (1969) | CHIM↑POM | FINGER POINTING WORKER | Takahiko IIMURA (1937) | Sun ITO (1971) | Masaru IWAI (1975) | Takahiro IWASAKI (1975) | Teppei KANEUJI (1979) | Tsubasa KATO (1984) | Junko KIDO (1976) | Takayoshi KITAGAWA (1974) | Kengo KITO (1977) | Fumiko KOBAYASHI (1977) | Meiro KOIZUMI (1976) | Mami KOSEMURA (1975) | Yamamoto MASAO (1957) | Shimon MINAMIKAWA (1972) | Hidenori MITSUE (1969) | Toshihiko MITSUYA (1979) | Yumiko MORISUE (1982) | Shinji OHMAKI (1971) | Katsumi OMORI (1963) | Hiroe SAEKI (1978) | Ataru SATO (1986) | Kei TAKEMURA (1975) | Kazuyuki TAKEZAKI (1976) | Keiichi TANAAMI (1936) | Yuken TERUYA (1973) | Momoyo TORIMITSU (1967) | Naoyuki TSUJI (1972) | Ryohei USUI (1983) | Mai YAMASHITA (1976) & Naoto KOBAYASHI (1974) | Ryohei YANAGIHARA (1931) | Yuichi YOKOYAMA (1967)
A full-color catalog will accompany the exhibition.