Issue Index

Features
  Mini Features
  Cultural Features
  Life in Japan
  Big in Japan
  Rant & Rave
  Cars & Bikes
  Health & Beauty
Jobfinder
  Money Talks
  Tokyo Tech
  Web Watch
  Food & Drink
  Features
  Restaurant Reviews
  Bar Reviews
  Word of Mouth
  Travel Features
  Japan Travel
  International Travel
  Travelogue
  Art
  Artifacts
  Fashion
  Tokyo Talk
  In Store
  Buyline
  Japan Beat
  CD Reviews
  In Person
  Concerts
  Clubbing

 

exhibitions
 ARTIFACTS

Since the late 19th century, Japanese art has been schizophrenically split into yoga (Western-style) and nihonga (Japanese-style). The latter arose as a self-conscious response to the inroads of the former. Nevertheless, when nihonga took up the challenge of Western art, it was unable to avoid borrowing some of its ideas, most notably the romantically inflated concept of the “divine” artist. But instead of Michelangelo or van Gogh, nihonga found its role models in the elite artist/craftsmen of the Rinpa school. The Yamatane Museum of Art’s exhibition What Did Nihonga Learn from Rinpa? uses 50 mainly large works to look at echoes of the school in the works of 20th-century nihonga artists. Particularly worth seeing is Kaii Higashiyama’s vast seascape Rising Tide and Gyoshu Hayami’s Falling Camellias.

Through Dec 25. See exhibition listings (Ginza/ Kyobashi/ Tokyo) for details. CBL

Giveaway!
Metropolis is offering readers ten free tickets to “What Did Nihonga Learn from Rinpa?” For your chance to see this excellent exhibition, email the following information by Wednesday, December 17, to editor@metropolis.co.jp:

1. Name; 2. Address; 3. Age; 4. Home country; 5. Last exhibition you visited

Include the text “Nihonga” in the subject line. Winners will be selected at random.


 PAST ISSUES

775: Twelve Travels
773: Fuchu Biennial
769: Leonard Foujita
767: Andrew Wyeth
765: Tokyo in the 1930s
763: Treasures by Rinpa Masters
761: Yokohama Triennale 2008
759: Vermeer & The Delft Style
757: John Everett Millais
755: Avant Garde China
753: The Railway Museum
751: Parallel Worlds
749: George Raab: Canadian Wilderness Etchings
743: Daido Moriyama
741: Bauhaus Experience, Dessau
739: The Perry & Harris Exhibition
737: The House
735: XXIst Century Man
733: Kaii Higashiyama
731: Three Weeks of Art Celebration
729: Fashion + Art
727: New Horizons: The Collection of the Ishibashi Foundation
725: Yokoyama and Toulouse-Lautrec
723: Goth: Reality of the Departed World
721: Genesis Art Lounge
717: Tatsuya Matsui: Flower Robotics
715: Space for Your Future: Recombining the DNA of Art and Design
713: MoMA Design Store + Gallery White Room Tokyo
711: Roppongi Crossing 2007: Future Beats in Japanese Contemporary Art
709: Daikanyama Installation 2007
707: Nippon to Asobo
705: Marina Kappos at Tokyo Wonder Site
703: African-American Quilts: Women Piecing Memories and Dreams
701: Kids Earth Fund
699: The Mural Art of Kotohira-gu Shrine: Okyo, Jakuchu and Gantai
697: “Ayakashi” and “Odilon Redon”
695: Architects Around Town
693: Chocolate
691: My Civilization: Grayson Perry
689: Henry Darger: A Story of Girls At War—of Paradise Dreamed
687: Taisho Chic: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia and Deco
685: Marlene Dumas: Broken White
683: The Mind of Leonardo: The Universal Genius at Work
681: Suntory Museum of Art and 21_21 Design Sight
679: Art Fair Tokyo 2007
677: Gregory Colbert: Ashes and Snow
675: The Door into Summer: The Age of Micropop
673: World of Kojima Usui Collection
671: Keeping TABs
669: The National Art Center, Tokyo
667: New Year’s Preview
665: Jason Teraoka: Neighbors
663: The 3rd Fuchu Biennale: On Beauty and Value
661: Bill Viola: Hatsu-Yume (First Dream)
659: Shinro Ohtake Zen-Kei
657: Prism: Contemporary Australian Art
655: The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium Exhibition
653: Luisa Lambri
651: Modern Paradise
649: The Legend of Ultraman
647: Nihonga Painting: Six Provocative Artists
645: Echigo-Tsumari Triennial
643: Art × Communication = Open!
641: YOROYORON: Tabaimo
639: Africa Remix
637: Mashcomix
635: Move On Asia and Hitoshi Nishiyama’s White Out
633: A Passion for Plants
631: Chikaku: Time and Memory in Japan
629: A Sense of You, Created by Me
627: Beautiful Cities in Dreams
626: 77 Million
625: No Border
623: The 9th Annual Taro Okamoto Memorial Award for Contemporary Art
621: Tokyo-Berlin/Berlin-Tokyo
619: Conversation With Art, On Art
617: Olafur Eliasson: Your light shadow
613: Mayumi Terada: New Works
611: Gerhard Richter: New Works
609: Hokusai
607: Stephan Balkenhol: Skulpturen und Reliefs
605: International Triennale of Contemporary Art 2005
603: CWAJ 50 Years of Print Show
601: Hiroshi Sugimoto: End of Time
599: Shinji Ohmaki: Echoes-Infinity
597: Miwa Yanagi
596: Cubism in Asia: Unbounded Dialogues
595: Canada Tsuga: The Feeling of Wood
594: Laurie Anderson: The Record of the Time
593: Today's artists X: Nishimura Morio/Matsumoto Yoko
592: Masaaki Yamada
591: Follow me!
590: Daido Moriyama: Buenos Aires
589: Mutsuro Sasaki: Flux Structure
588: Shinro Ohtake
587: Masterpieces of the Louvre Museum
586: Tabaimo: Yubibira
585: Yasumasa Morimura: Los Nuevos Caprichos
584: Julian Opie: Films and Paintings
583: Masterpieces of the museum island
582: The Elegance of Silence
581: Tapies
580: The world is a stage: Stories behind pictures
579: Shigejiro Sano At Play in the Esprit of Paris
578: The Body: Hitoshi Abe
577: Tenshin Okakura: The Awakening of Japan
576: Contemporary Spanish Photography: Ten Views
575:Taro Okamoto Memorial Award
574: Takeshi Tamai: Till Moss Grows On
573: Laura Owens
572: Alphonse Mucha: Treasures Of The Mucha Foundation
571: “Welcome, Welcome” Art-Beijing-Contemporary
570: The hidden side of Japanese art
569: Art Scope 2004: Cityscape Into Art—Michiko Shoji + Johannes Wohnseifer
568: Life Actually
567: Traces: Body and Idea in Contemporary Art
566: Mirrorical Returns: Marcel Duchamp and the 20th Century Art
565: Archilab: New Experiments In Architecture, Art and the City, 1950-2005
564: The Second Annual Fuchu Biennale
563: Have We Met?
561-2: Fluxus: Art Into Life
560: Christopher Wool
559: Pop Art and co.
558: Art & Money
557: Art of the Japanese Postcard
556: Yayoi Kusama: Eternity-Modernity
555: Ihei Kimura: The Man with the Camera
554: Wolfgang Tillmans: Freischwimmer
553: Emerging Generation
552: Larry Clark: Punk Picasso
551: Cool & Light: New Spirit in Craft Making
550: Angelo Mangiarotti: Un Percorso
549: Endo Akiko: Poetry of an Everlasting Life
548: Paris and Klein
547: Yoshitomo Nara: From the Depth of My Drawer
546: Colors: Viktor & Rolf & KCI
545: Micro Presence & Macro Presence
544: Non-sect Radical: Contemporary Photography III
543: Pastoral and Flowers in Modern French Painting
542: Collapsing Histories: time, space and memory
541: Supernatural Artificial
540: Jiro Takamatsu: Universe of His Thought
539: The World Press Photo 2004
538: I Dreamt of Flying: Noguchi Rika
537: Man Ray Exhibition: The Gift of His Vision
536: Why Not Live For Art?
535: Brazil: Body Nostalgia
534: n_ext: New Generation of Media Artists
533: Empty Garden II
532: Street Art in Africa: A Color Commotion
531: Modern Crafts and Design from the Museum Collection: Art Deco
530: And or Versus? : Adventures in Images
529: Modern Means
528: Remaking Modernism in Japan 1900-2000
527: Treasures of a Sacred Mountain: Kukai and Mount Koya
526: Jan Jansen: Master of Shoe Design
525: Yasuo Kuniyoshi: Between Two Worlds
524: Beyond The Border: Seung H-Sang and Yung Ho Chnag
523: Testimony of Life: Ancient Roman Portraits from the Vatican Museums
522: I Love Art
521: "My" Siberia and "My" Earth: The 30 Year Memorial Retrospective Exhibition of Yasuo Kazuki
520: Time of My Life: Art with a Youthful Spirit
519: Joy of Life: Two Photographers from Africa-JD 'Okhai Ojeikere and Malick Sidibé
518: Roppongi Crossing: New Visions in Japanese Art 2004+Kusamatrix
517: Exposition Musee Marmottan Monet
516: Treasures of a Great Zen Temple: Nanzenji
515: Johannes Itten: Ways to Art
514: Meiji Kaigakan (Memorial Picture Gallery)
513: Kaii Higashiyama: One Man's Path
512: Future Cinema: The Cinematic Imaginary after Film
511: Yasujiro Ozu: Japanese Film Master
509/10: End-of-the-year review and 2004 preview
508: Surface tension
507: Jean Nouvel
506: Makoto Aida: My Ken Ten
505: Gaudi: Exploring Form
504: Ino Tadataka and Old Maps of Japan/Fusuma Paintings of Jukoin
503: Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum
502: Happiness: A Survival Guide for Art and Life
501: Today's Man
500: Taro Shinoda: Helicopter 1

Issues 499-
Issues 449-
Issues 399-

By John McGee

Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Time Exposed, 1980-1997, gelatin silver print

You could hate contemporary art and still love Naoshima. It's a romantic destination in Japan's version of the Mediterranean-a lush island with crescents of coarse sand lapped by the transparent-green Seto Inland Sea.

For art fans it's even better. Perched high on a southern cape looking across the water to Shikoku is the Benesse House Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum. Cai Guo-Qiang's Cultural Melting Bath (1998) exemplifies the mood. The interactive installation-a Jacuzzi surrounded by Chinese limestone boulders set in a seaside forest-is perfect for watching the sun set behind the distant Seto Ohashi Bridge.

There are no bridges to Naoshima. The journey into art paradise starts with a short ferry ride, a liquid buffer between harried city and island calm. You wind past small islets and through a narrow channel to arrive at a village. A 15-minute bus ride later, you reach the museum complex.

The two Tadao Ando-designed buildings sit on a ridge like a low-slung modernist castle overlooking the sea. Rough stone walls rise just above a tangle of foliage.

The lower structure, the main museum, has an interior of smooth, cast concrete in interlocking geometric forms. It contains a small but good collection of work by modern and contemporary masters like Richard Long's circles of mud, stones and driftwood (1997), Jasper Johns's painting White Alphabets (1968), and Bruce Nauman's flashing neon 100 Live and Die (1984). On the walls of an open patio outside hang Hiroshi Sugimoto's black and white photos of seascape horizons (Time Exposed, 1980-97).

Cai Guo-Qiang , Cultural Melting Bath: Project for Naoshima, 1998, Chinese limestone, Jacuzzi, hot water, herbs, changing room (Benesse House Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum and Annex behind

Above the main building is the Annex, a small hotel curved around an elliptical pond. Each room features artworks from the museum collection and incredible views (including the Ando designed Chichu Museum going up on an adjacent bluff).

From here you can also see down to the International Camp Area, a collection of white tents and round Mongolian pao (aka ger or yurt) set in a grassy valley with the beach as a front yard and tanuki (raccoon dogs) as regular visitors. Art is spread around the grounds, from Dan Graham's mirror-glass room, Cylinder Bisected by a Plane (1995) under pine trees, to Yayoi Kusama's oversized yellow and black Pumpkin (1994) at the end of a pier.

In 1997, the museum initiated the Art House Project in the nearby village of Honmura, restoring old houses and turning them into permanent exhibitions for individual artists. A short walking tour takes in all of them. Inside the simple Kinza is Rei Naito's delicate collection of marbles and wires. A 200-year-old house with the town's characteristic exterior of white mortar walls and scorched cedar boards holds three number pieces by Tatsuo Miyajima.

Two works are new constructions at ancient sites. James Turrell's low-light perception piece is in an Ando-designed, windowless, dark wood temple. Hiroshi Sugimoto's small Go'o Shrine looks typical except for a rough, cast glass staircase extending from the wooden structure down into a crypt.

In Honmura you also meet some of the island's 3,600 inhabitants. They are almost uniformly elderly and friendly, taking pride in and looking after the art houses.

"Harmony between Nature, Architecture and Art" was education and publishing giant Benesse's concept when they opened the museum in 1992. Slogans like this have been used to such banal ends elsewhere that it's invigorating to find them so well integrated here. You'll want to stay longer.

 

Benesse House Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum.
Gotanji, Naoshima-cho, Kagawa-gun, Kagawa Prefecture. Daily 8am-9pm. Tel: 087-892-2030. Adm: Adults ¥1,000, children ¥500 (free for hotel or camp guests). Hotel price: ¥7,600-50,000/person per night. Pao and tents: ¥4,000-4,500. Meals not included. To reach Naoshima, take a shinkansen to Okayama, then a local train to JR Uno station. Or fly to Takamatsu in Shikoku. Ferries run regularly from both towns. See website for complete information. www.naoshima-is.co.jp (in English and Japanese)

Additionally, the 41st Okayama City Art Festival runs through Dec 15.