Tuesday, 2 December 2008

trAin lecture - Japanese Contemporary Art

Fragments of our time by Mami Kataoka.

Outstanding lecture by this international curator gave me a really good snapshot of Japanese contemporary art from 60s-70s to today. Its a common misconception that Japanese art is all about manga and animation (& sushi!). Partly because Takeshi Murakami's work has had such a big influence (see below). Its an interesting topic how ones culture is translated into another.

She started by showing that there are links between the major cities having the Olympics and then international expo's a few years after which is like a springboard and motivator, bringing international attention and economic growth to that country i.e.

JAPAN - 1964 Tokyo Olympics, 1970 Osaka Expo (64 million visitors)
SOUTH KOREA - 1988 Seoul Olympics, 1993 Taejon Expo
CHINA - 2007 Beijing Olympics, 2010 Shanghai Expo

There were some major postwar art movements:

Gutai (1954)
Bringing raw materials such as concrete to intimate relationships with the body. Performance, famous work by Saburo Murakami - breaking through paper gates. Introduced to the West by a French critic as being part of Art Informel (which wasn't quite right) they were encouraged as painters so performance and installation work declined. Major influence to the Fluxus movement.
Key artists:
Jiro Yoshihara
Saburo Murakami
Kazuo Shiraga

Fluxus (in late 50s early 60s some artists left Japan for New York)
Key artists:
Yoko Ono
Mieko Shiomi
Takeshia Kosugi
Ay.O
Kuniharu Aoyama
Toshi Khiyanagi

High Red Center (Tokyo) 1963-64
Named after the first Chinese characters this short movement had three core members:
Jiro Takamatsu
Genpei Akasegawa
Natsuyuki Nakanishi
and through performance, humour and teasing the attitude of the government their work explored political and economic issues within the social system.

Mono-Ha (late 60s to mid 70s)
Working with natural objects and/or materials they juxtaposed objects to create very subtle work - much of it very site specific.
Key artists:
Nobuo Sekine
Lee Ufan
Kishio Suga

All these movements are linked by their improvised and intuitive nature, using mostly natural materials.

In the 1990s the major economic crash in Japan had a huge effect. As children born in the 60s they were the first generation brought up with tv and had been exposed to popular culture from a young age. They were also much more well travelled than older generations and had a more international outlook. Before the 1990s it was generally only possible to exhibit work by hiring a gallery space which was usually quite expensive. From the 90s onwards the first gallery agents started appearing and offered emerging artists an alternative route to exhibit their work to a wider audience.

Takeshi Murakami began his career with an exhibition at Parco Gallery in 1999, his international career really took off when in 2001 he went to LA. From his book: the value of art should be raised by statement. The client for the art is glorious millionaires. You must know the structure of the art world for survival. You must know how to brand your own history and understand the context of international standards.


Tradition and Popular Culture
Contemporary artists are using traditional concepts like Sotatsu Tawaraya's work (17th century). Juxtaposing tradition and contemporary culture.

Mariko Mori - I had already referenced her in an earlier post!
Akira Yamaguchi

Hisashi Tenmyoya
Makota Aida
Seeking for their actuality in their everyday life
Tsuyoshi Ozawa - vegetable guns
Shimabuku - octopus tour

2000s
For children born in the 70s in the second baby boom - they went through a very competitive childhood and upon graduation met the economic crash. With jobs scarce some returned to school to gain more technical skills, to become specialists. The IT revolution also brought new jobs. (There are not many natural resources in Japan and the economy relies on technology. In 1984 there was a major shift and new ideology within government towards flexible, small and compact.)
New words like - Freeter, Parasite single and NEET entered the language to describe people who didn't have a job - stayed at home.

Teppei Kaneuji - person from hairpieces.

The advent of the internet allowed the re appropriation of images, with less sense of authorship more work composed of second hand materials and images started (collage).

Koki Tanaka - *think* these are the video art pieces, fragmenting the present tense by showing an installation of the aftermath of an event, then the event on video in the next room.

Ujino - all the objects that rotate. Is having exhibition next yr 09 at Hayward.

Labour/craft intensive works
Otaku (movement)
Manabu Ikeda
Akino Kondoh - animation with 3,000 drawings

Yoshino Masui - swirls with horses/birds
Konoike Tomoko
Mika Kato - doll portraits
Motohiko Odani - weird video at Venice Biennale
Chiharu Shiota


Ambiguous boundaries between fantasy & reality

Toru Kuwakubo - ships and holes, paintings
Ryuta Ohtake - big and small painting, pair
Hiraki Sawa - lives in London, Chisenhale Gallery - aeroplanes in flat - LOVE IT!


New relationship with society
Chim Pom (group 1 girl, 5 boys)


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