All in Exhibitions

Walk this way

One of the great things about the Watari-um is that you’re always in for a surprise. John Lurie is a musician, co-founder of The Lounge Lizards, a jazz ensemble. He is an actor, director and producer. And he is a painter, focusing on this art form since his 2000 diagnosis of Lyme disease. Art lovers can be snobby about these multi-hyphenates, often thinking one person can’t be good at all these different types of art. But his paintings. His paintings, mostly watercolor and some oil, are really beautiful. Quirky, ephemeral, with a sense of humor, and with nods of Klee and Moreau and Basquiat.

Parabola of Pre-Raphaelitism

This exhibition highlights the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, founded by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel in 1848. This art movement was championed by the art critic and artist, John Ruskin. This brotherhood desired art similar to that before the time of Raphael, using intense colors, focusing on nature and Biblical and historical themes. The exhibition consists of artwork by all of these artists and continues through to the work of other Brotherhood associates, Edward Burne-Jones in particular and the decorative arts of William Morris.

information or inspiration?

Ready to see beautiful Japanese artwork with a fresh approach? This exhibition lets the viewer experience art through two different perspectives. One calls on the right brain, using your intuition to experience the artwork, the “inspiration” perspective. The other approach provides details for the left brain, allowing the “information”, and a full, unobstructed view of the artwork, to enhance the experience. This exhibition is made up of only 22 works of Japanese ceramics, glassware, incense burners and more, but visitors go through twice, choosing to begin with either the information (white) side or inspiration (black) side.

The Treasures and the Tradition of “Lâle” in the Ottoman Empire

If you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting Turkey, this exhibition is a great entrée to the country’s art and culture. There are over 170 objects to admire, mostly from the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. Beautiful jewelry and bejeweled pieces, clothing, carpets, ceramics and all sorts of decorated pieces. The exhibition explains the symbolism and importance of the tulip, or lâle, in the context of the Ottoman Empire and highlights the relations between Japan and Turkey.

To-ji Temple: Kukai and the Sculpture Mandala

Even the title in English is a bit confusing to us non-Japanese -- where is the To-ji temple? What/who (it’s a who) is Kukai? Mandalas, they’re normally seen on paper or in powder form but as sculptures? This exhibition is an opportunity to see some of Japan’s most cherished National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties. Almost all of the objects are from the To-ji Temple, which was built almost 1200 years ago in the then newly established capital of Kyoto. The exhibition tells the story of Kukai, the Japanese priest who had recently returned from China and established To-ji as the center of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism. Kukai brought mandalas to Japan and he is believed to have arranged the statues in the sculpture mandala in To-ji’s lecture hall. The exhibition includes many statues, two dimensional mandalas, various ceremonial objects, and papers and ends with the The World of Mandalas, large room filled with incredible Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Wisdom Kings, and Devas.

Weavers of Worlds — A Century of Flux in Japanese Modern / Contemporary Art —

This exhibition commemorates the reopening of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT) and uses the occasion to present a survey of Japanese art of the last 100 years. Different elements of life in Japan across the years are “woven” into this exhibition of artwork. Beginning with 1914 through today, the artwork, mostly paintings, are grouped chronologically, using events such as the Great Kanto Earthquake and World War II, and a variety of artistic themes (light, words, universality) to group works by chapter. The exhibition also includes artwork relating to the Kiba district where the museum is located, highlighting the dramatic changes the area has witnessed in the last 100 years.

Sense of Humor

Any exhibition that combines ping pong, Buster Keaton, zen, and surrealism must be aiming for something different. Katsumi Asaba, a graphic artist, calligrapher, and champion ping pong player, among other things, is the exhibition director for Sense of Humor. He presents film, posters, photographs, sculptures, all types of objects and much more with a sense of whimsy and delight. In his words, “humor soothes the spirit; humor stirs the soul….Humor is the heart of communication.” There are lots of colors, shapes and other sights to explore and enjoy.

TOSHIKO OKANOUE, Photo Collage : The Miracle of Silence

Toshiko Okanoue is known for her black and white photo collages, using images from print magazines. Influenced by Max Ernst and Shuzo Takiguchi, a Japanese Surrealist, her collages are truly surreal, often featuring women from fashion magazines placed in a variety of locations with unrealistic proportions. The exhibition also includes dressmaking patterns from her youth, photographs, source magazines and a few paintings. The museum has included several designer dresses (Dior, Balenciaga) from the Kyoto Costume Institute.

Roppongi Crossing 2019: Connexions

Roppongi Crossing is a contemporary art exhibition held every three years. The work of 25 Japanese artists/groups (collectives), born in the 1970s and 1980s, is on display. There are several large scale works, videos, cats, a simulated ocean, glowing honey jars, and more. Themes of connection and disparity in the age of the internet, artificial intelligence, and the current state of Japan are explored.

Sophie Calle: Exquisite Pain

Reading any news about art in Tokyo, it is hard to miss Sophie Calle, that her work has appeared in four different venues in February: a video installation at Shibuya Crossing (finished), a gallery show at Perrotin in Roppongi (the above photo), Parce que at Gallery Koyangi in Ginza, and Exquisite Pain: From the Hara Museum Collection. Exquisite Pain was previously shown at the Hara Museum in 1999-2000, when the museum acquired the entire collection, and is now shown again in its entirety. Calle demonstrates the pain of a romantic breakup through a countdown, using letters, photographs, and other mementos to tick off the days. The count up alternates Calle’s recounting of the breakup with painful stories and accompanying photographs from the stories of others.

The Way of Paintings 2019: FACE Award Winners and FACE 2019

FACE, the Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Art Award, is a public entry competition established in 2013 that recognizes outstanding emerging artists. The Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Museum of Art is hosting two exhibitions regarding this award. Until February 17, The Way of Paintings 2019: FACE Award Winners features 11 artists who received Grand Prix or Excellent Work Awards from 2016 to 2018. From February 23 to March 30, the 7th FACE exhibition, FACE 2019, features 71 works selected by a jury from the works submitted by 870 emerging artists from all over Japan.

Hokusai Updated

Hokusai of the ubiquitous woodblock wave is treated to a massive exhibition of over 400 works of art. It is termed “updated” because it includes recently rediscovered works and pieces that are shown in Japan for the first time. The viewer comes away with an appreciation of the length of the artist’s career: Hokusai began at 20 and died at 90 and considered his work to be satisfactory starting at the age of 70. While there are prints from his famous series, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, including Under the Wave off Kanagawa, the exhibition highlights the different periods of the artist’s long career, the many types of artwork (prints, paintings, books, and much more) he created, his innovation and the pursuit of his unique interests, and his desire to share what he learned over the years through the publication of artist manuals.

Leiko Ikemura: Our Planet - Earth & Stars

Leiko Ikemura is a Japanese-Swiss artist who lives and works in Germany. This exhibition includes artwork from her 40 year career. Charcoal drawings, photographs, paintings on canvas and jute, sculptures, and large scale prints. The artist focuses on the natural world - trees, mountains, horizons - and women, both girls and Amazon women. Highlights include recent large scale paintings of the cosmos, over-sized prints of Amazon women, and the Usagi Kannon, a large-scale sculpture of a rabbit/goddess hybrid.

Michael Kenna: A 45 Year Odyssey 1973-2018

In the mood to get away, if only for a few minutes, and immerse yourself in beauty? This exhibition is a collection of stunningly gorgeous black and white photographs of landscapes from all over the world. Some shots are from world famous locales like Versailles or New York City. Others are so “simple” that the invoke minimalist paintings, such as photographs of snow scenes in Hokkaido. There are two special sections with photographs: Japanese nudes and haunting scenes from holocaust sites.

The Phillips Collection: A Modern Vision

In 1921 Duncan Phillips opened what is considered to be the first museum devoted in modern art in the United States. The Phillips Collection is located in Washington, DC and even those who have visited this museum will appreciate the works in this exhibition. The artworks are grouped by the decade they were acquired and this, together with the exhibition text, provides interesting insight into Duncan Phillips the art collector. His emphasis on collecting the most unique, rather than the most famous or representative, examples of an artist’s work provides the viewer with the opportunity to see some of the world’s most famous artists in new ways.

Rubens and the Birth of the Baroque

Thinking about Rubens usually invokes images of women who “embrace their curves” as we say in today’s vernacular. This exhibition offers another view of this master by focusing on his years in Italy, from 1600 to 1608. This time in Italy, the center of ancient, Renaissance and Baroque art, and his access to sculpture of the ancient world and masters such as Titian and Tintoretto, greatly influenced his art.

Catastrophe and the Power of Art

“What art can do in chaotic times where the future is uncertain.” Under the theme of catastrophe, such as the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, these artists use their talents to help us process these events through their personal vision and expression. The artwork concerns all types of tragedies, from personal experiences to large cataclysmic events. There are a wide variety of media - videos, photographs, paintings, sculptures, illustrations, models, and more - used to both depict disasters both large and small and process these events through creativity in the aftermath.

Yoshimura Yoshio: Beyond Hyper-realism

Yoshimura Yoshio’s drawings depict everyday scenes, hyper realistic recreations of newspapers, self-portraits on actual newspapers, and renditions of flowers that are so realistic that they look like photographs at first glance. Over 60 works and 600 items make up the retrospective of this incredibly gifted artist and must be seen in person to be fully appreciated.

MINGEI - Another Kind of Art

This exhibition features over 140 objects selected by the Director of the Japan Folk Crafts Museum. The word mingei is used to describe handicrafts made by anonymous craftspeople, emphasizing that crafts use local materials and techniques handed down from generations. The film shown in Gallery 1 highlights craftspeople at work and informs the objects on display in Gallery 2.

Munch: A Retrospective

Edvard Munch’s The Scream is arguably one of the most famous works of art. This is your opportunity to admire it along with a wide variety of the artist’s work: self portraits, self photographs (early selfies), portraits, and landscapes. Other famous works, such as The Kiss and Madonna, are presented in multiple and in different media -- prints and oil paintings.