The contemporary art in Japan : The big fears of Japan

en français

The contemporary art in Japan is naturally influenced by the world contemporary art. But the power of the Japanese traditions, the oppressive presence of a dense urban environment and the various traumatism undergone by Japan for 60 years (defeat of 1945, Hiroshima, earthquakes, economic crisis, etc.) involve a production very rich, original and little known.

Some examples, paintings, sculptures, photographs, classified very arbitrarily by broad topics: All the artists

- A modern vision of the traditional arts of Japan

- A rather classic geometrical abstraction

- Land-Art, Minimal-Art

- A popular art influenced by mangas and vidéos

- The obsessional presence of the city and the technique

- The big fears of Japan

- The difficult search for an identity

The big fears of Japan

Born in the illusion of a perfect Japan, where the technique was capable of solving any problem, where the lifetime employment was the standard and where their country invaded the world with its products, the japanese recover old fears since last fifteen years.
With the long economic crisis, the uncertainty reappear.
Tchernobyl woke the fear of the nuclear and the recollection of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The earthquake of Kobe, very violent and in a region considered as few exposed, highlighted the relative carelessness of the Japanese administration.
This country is perfectly democratic, but the elections do not fascinate the people; it is not the custom to speak about politics in Japan, neither in family, nor between friends.
The Japanese newspapers are numerous and very thick, but their contents are very often insipid.

Tatsumi Orimoto ( b 1945 )
photographer, lives in Kawasaki.

The inexorable increase of the very old population in Japan, its uncertainty and its isolation are illustrated by this staged photography

Kenji Yanobe ( born in Osaka , 1965 )

The fear of the nuclear threat, the attempts of 1995 using sarin gas in the subway of Tokyo developed in the population some reflexes of protection

Protective clothes, yellow series

Tsuyoshi Ozawa ( b 1965 in Tokyo )

This installation evokes the precarious condition of the poor Japaneses who live in social exiguous apartments, looking like kennel where only television seems living and where the nature is magnificent, but is often only distant background.



Tadashi Kawamata ( b 1953 in Hokkaïdo )

Sculptor, architect since 1977

" daily news " Project
Installation of tons of unsold newspapers

Ryuji Miyamoto ( b 1947, Tokyo )

He specialized in the photos of buildings in the course of destruction, industrial fallow lands. He became famous for his photos of the earthquake of Kobe in January, 1995
He began a series of photos on the underprivileged persons and the homeless persons of the Japanese cities, who are usually hidden, while respecting their dignity by showing often only silhouettes.

Kobe, 1995, january 18


Tetsumi Kudo

Born in Osaka, Febr 23 1935, Tetsumi Kudo studied oil painting at and graduated from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts in 1958.
He was first noticed at the Yomiuri Independents exhibition. In 1962, Kudo emigrated to France and lived there for the next 25 years. After his return to Japan, Kudo taught at Tokyo Art University from 1987 until his death in 1990.
His strong concern for the human body, which he shows through his often grotesque work, bears many implications for modern society. We should, for example, react to his series which address the issue of radioactivity and environment.
Died Nov 12 1990, Tokyo.


In search of an identity...

Since their youngest age, the Japanese have a uniform, that of the school, then the secondary school. Between 18 and 25 years the young people have very colored and often provocating dresses, but for the greater part, the first employment sounds the hour of return at the costume/white-shirt/dark-tie of "Salary-man" and in the strict suit of "Office-lady".

The artists who want to be famous go either to the provocation, or to the dream, or still in an exaggeration of the commonness of their environment.

Yayoi Kusama ( born 1928, Matsumoto )

One of the largest contemporary artists in Japan.
Kusama is also enigmatic – critics have variously ascribed her work to minimalism, feminism, obsessivism, surrealism, art brut, pop, and abstract expressionism.
Because of fragile mental health, she voluntarily lives at a Tokyo psychiatric hospital, in a small room, for over 20 years.

Selfportrait with mirror

"Girls" cardboard, 2003

Yasumasa Morimura (b. in Osaka, 1951 )

Lives and works in Osaka. He exposes since 1980 and specialized in the diversion of paints or photos by substituting his face, nevertheless unsightly, to that of the famous feminine subjects.
His most recent project is a series of " actresses " where it disguises and makes up to imitate known actresses.

Morimura-Marylin ; photography

Morimura-Ménines ;
oil on canvas


Miwa Yanagi ( Born in 1967, Kobe )

Awarded a diploma in 1991 of the University of Kyoto's fine art.
The artist turned to digital image-editing because she could not otherwise create the scenes that she wanted to see.
She admits spending enormous amount of time to create just one image.

Minami 2002 ( My Grandmothers series)

Takanobu Kobayashi (b 1960 )
lives in Tokyo ; worked in France and in Thaïland.
He seeks his identity in the journeys and the dream.

Acrylic on canvas


Makoto Aïda ( b. in Tokyo, 1965 )

He lives in Tokyo and New York, provocative artist; he exorcises the daily stress by producing hyperrealistic videos.




Video performanceself-portrait "I de a "
Kanjis mean "idea of a pretty girl"


Drinking bad sake
( Millenium exposure, Tokyo)

Hara-kiri of school-girls

Series " Return of War":

En l'an 3000, les manipulations génétiques ont permis de créer un animal comestible, succulent et facile à produire.
Il mesure de 20 cm de long et se présente sous la forme d'une femme charmante et miniature.

"No one knows the title";
mixing of Parthenon and Genbaku dome of Hiroshima

Remembers of World-War II

Mi-Mi Chan Series:

In the year 3000, a molecular biologist creates MI-MI, a new creature, very savory and with lovely apparence.
Mi-Mi is served all around the world. Mi-Mi don't have sense of pain and no fear of death.

Mi-Mi Chan maki-sushi

Mi-Mi Chan roasted

Kimiko Yoshida ( born 1962 Tokyo )

She studies photography in Tokyo. She lives and works in France since 1995.

She draws from the experiment of its childhood the force of inspiration. She was early in strong opposition with her mother.Since, she is wandering and fugitive.
her work turns primarily around self-portraits. In a recent series "Marry me" she is represented as a bride in remembering its childhood where she invented wedding dresses for her dolls.

Masks Nô


Fragile bride 2003
from series "Mary me"

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