Three of our picks from Tokyo’s gallery scene this December.
By Luca Eandi
“Yoko Ono: From My Window”
“Let people copy or photograph your paintings. Destroy the originals,” reads an excerpt from Yoko Ono’s “Grapefruit,” published in 1964. Like musical scores, the collection of typewritten texts sought to recontextualize actions, ideas and objects into performance art open to interpretation by someone other than the creator. In the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT) exhibition, “Yoko Ono: From My Window,” Ono herself is recontextualized within the frame of her native Japan. Ono’s Tokyo connection is profound. Born in the capital in 1933, she received musical education at the Jiyu Gakuen kindergarten, a progressive girls’ school where she first learned to blur lines between art and everyday life. After two years at the prestigious Gakushuin school, alongside classmate and future emperor, Akihito, she withdrew after two years and joined her family in New York, deep-diving into the city’s downtown art scene and establishing herself as a pioneering conceptual artist. She returned to Tokyo in 1962 and held her first solo exhibition at the Sogetsu Art Center. Twenty-two of the original instructions from that exhibition are shown at MOT, as well as photostat positives and negatives of the originals, alongside many typewritten drafts of works that make up “Grapefruit.” The exhibition also highlights Ono’s career-spanning works dealing with human rights, peace advocacy and the protection of the environment.
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
Dates: November 8, 2015–February 14, 2016
Open: Open daily, 10:00–18:00
“Otto Künzli: The Exhibition”
Contemporary jewelry exhibitions as visual art can at worst appear as nothing more than conceptual jewelry stores. That is, unless the artist can effectively push their concepts to the forefront, making the validity of their observations stick with the viewer and transcend the material objects which are often of inherent value.
Swiss goldsmith Otto Künzli is an acclaimed jeweler and professor at Munich’s Academy of Fine Arts, perhaps the world’s most prestigious jewelry school. Since the 1970s, he’s explored the boundaries of the conceptual medium, working to expand the relationship between himself, the jewelry and the wearer, while always displaying his wit, irony and mischievous spirit. His works reflect a keen grasp of humanity and employ the universal appeal of form and beauty, often using diverse techniques and styles from various world cultures.
This exhibition was originally shown at The International Design Museum Munich and has also toured the Musée de Design et d’Arts Appliqués Contemporains in Lausanne. In Tokyo, 200 works, ranging from the artist’s earliest pieces from 1967 to his most recent work—some crafted explicitly for the exhibition—are on display. Drawings, photographs and installations are also included. Another highlight of the Teien exhibition is a video created in a collaboration between Künzli and video director Daisuke Yamashiro.
Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum
Dates: October 10–December 27, 2015
Open: 10:00–18:00 (last admission, 17:30) | closed on 2nd and 4th Wednesday
“TENMYOUYA Hisashi x indieguerillas Exhibition”
Tokyo-based contemporary artist Tenmyouya Hisashi reprises his “Japanese Spirit” series for the first time since 2004 with new paintings depicting imaginary human-powered machines in a joint exhibition with kindred spirits, Indonesian husband-and-wife team, Dyatmiko “Miko” Bawono and Santi Ariestyowanti, also known as indieguerillas.
Hisashi is renowned for his “Neo-Nihonga” style of acrylic painting, wherein classic and Meji-age paintings are reframed for the modern age. His sense of rebellion against conservative notions of what art should be is grounded by his firm grasp of traditional technique and is a perfect complement to indieguerillas, who find themselves equally at ease dealing with indigenous folklore and contemporary city life. The Javanese duo will display works similarly exploring the motif of vehicles.
“This two-artist exhibition marks a continuation from their double-curation show held at Mizuma Gallery Singapore last year,” says Mizuma representative Annabel James. In that show, the artists selected their home country’s most promising up-and-coming creators, highlighting how foreign influences shaped Japanese and Indonesian artists respectively. James adds, “as the relationship between the two Asian cultures of Japan and Indonesia rapidly deepens, this pairing of representative artists from each country acquires a radical cultural importance.”
Mizuma Art Gallery
Dates: November 11–December 26, 2015
Open: 11:00–19:00, closed Sundays, Mondays and National Holidays
Main Image: indieguerillas “In Supermarket Veritas” 2015
acrylic on canvas, aluminium frame, 160x200cm
Courtesy Mizuma Art Gallery