Beyond the polka dots: Up-and-coming artists from Japan – MutualArt

Could younger Japanese artists be poised to take the helm from blue-chip superstars like Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami?

After attending the show “Double Vision – Contemporary Art from Japan”, MutualArt has come out with a “watch list” of emerging Japanese contemporary artists. Art Radar lists the artists below, as well as a few additions of our own.

Chim Pom, "SUPER RAT (diorama)", 2008, stuffed rats, diorama, video, monitor, DVD player.

Chim Pom, "SUPER RAT (diorama)", 2008, stuffed rats, diorama, video, monitor, DVD player.

After a stop in Moscow, “Double Vision – Contemporary Art from Japan” is currently on view simultaneously at the Haifa Museum of Art and the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, both in Israel. The show will be on view until 16 December 2012.

The exhibition showcases thirty Japanese artists spanning several generations, including blue-chip artists like Yayoi Kusama and Yoshitomo Nara, reflecting on the dialectic between the real and the imaginary in contemporary Japanese society.

It also features several younger and emerging artists, four of whom MutualArt profiled as Japanese artists to “keep on your radar.” The four artists and their styles are described below:

Tsuyoshi Ozawa | Known for his witty portrayals of politics and society, Ozawa is perhaps most famous for his “Vegetable Weapon” series, in which young women pose with fake weapons made out of vegetables. For the “Double Vision” exhibition, Ozawa is showing his “Jizang Project”, for which he photographs statues of the Japanese protective spirit Jizo in different locations.

Izumi Kato, 'Untitled', 2006, oil on canvas.

Izumi Kato, 'Untitled', 2006, oil on canvas.

Izumi Kato | Izumi Kato made a name for himself with his lurid and disorienting depictions of child-like figures. In 2007, he became the first young Japanese artist to be invited to the Venice Biennale.

Chim Pom | Artist collective Chim Pom is a group of six artists based in Tokyo. They launched in 2005 with their project “Super Rat”, which is shown in the “Double Vision” exhibition. For the project, the group caught live rats in Tokyo’s Shibuya ward and had them stuffed and painted to look like the Pokemon Pikachu. According to MutualArt, they are also known as Japan’s “art guerrillas”, often conducting impromptu public projects and performance pieces.

Yanobe Kenji, 'Sun Child', 2011, FRP, steel, neon, others.

Yanobe Kenji, 'Sun Child', 2011, FRP, steel, neon, others.

Yanobe Kenji | At 6.2 metres tall, Yanobe Kenji’s massive sculptural work Sun Child stood at the entrance to “Double Vision”, and the artist left enough of an impression on MutualArt for them to call him “the show stopping artist of the exhibition”. Kenji’s hazmat-suited figures are juxtaposed with photography taken on sight at Chernobyl in 1997, questioning the role of nuclear technology in Japanese society. The issue is an all the more pressing one due to 2011’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, the effects of which are still felt today.

The exhibition also contained a couple of other emerging contemporary Japanese artists that Art Radar has been tracking:

Makoto Aida | Art Radar recently included Makoto Aida’s recent crowd sourced exhibition at the Mori Art Museum, “Makoto Aida: Heisei Kanjin Project”, in our weekly jobs post and opportunities page. The painter is seeking donations in a revitalisation of a medieval artistic fundraising tradition.

Tadasu Takamine, 'God Bless Amerika', 2002, video.

Tadasu Takamine, 'God Bless Amerika', 2002, video.

Tadasu Takamine | Takamine, who Art Radar noted as one of the most experimental up-and-coming artists to participate in the 2008 SH Contemporary art fair, is a video artist whose controversial works often probe deeply-rooted sexual and cultural mores.

You can read the full list of artists participating in the show on the Japan Foundation’s website. The exhibition “Double Vision – Contemporary art from Japan” will run until 16 December 2012.


Related Topics: Japanese artists, museum shows, emerging artists

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