Best art exhibitions in Tokyo this summer

Cool down with an exhibition on water, explore optical illusions by MC Escher, and look back at the career of Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita
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Fancy seeing an art show this weekend but no idea where to go? Well look no further. You can't go wrong with one of these top art exhibitions taking place in Tokyo this summer. You could also check out Tokyo's best outdoor art, choose from all the exhibitions showing right now, or fill your Instagram feed at two of the hottest new museums this year: Mori Building Digital Art Museum Epson teamLab Borderless and teamLab Planets Tokyo.

Don't miss these shows

Pieter Vermeersch
© Pieter Vermeersch, Courtesy Perrotin. Photographer: Kei Okano
Art

Pieter Vermeersch

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Pieter Vermeersch’s fascination over the in-between — the thin line between abstract and materiality — has given birth to concepts of time and space even the brightest of minds cannot explain. His latest creations have been compiled into the space at Perrotin Tokyo, which marks the Belgian artist’s first solo show in Japan. Get a glimpse of his obsession over marble, which is showcased in the show's three elements along with paintings based on photographic sources of copper and a bright green painting installation added to the gallery's facade.

Art

Jomon: 10,000 Years of Prehistoric Art in Japan

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The prehistoric Jomon Period in Japanese history is thought to have started over 13,000 years ago. There is still a remarkable amount of well-preserved artefacts from that time, including the trademark pottery beloved by sculptor Taro Okamoto, intriguing clay figurines and ornaments. A selection of the best is displayed at the Tokyo National Museum in this large-scale exhibition. Don’t miss the six National Treasures of the Jomon Period, including the humanoid clay female figurine ‘Jomon Venus’, on display from July 31 until September 2.

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Art

Depicting Water: Hiroshige’s Rain, Gyokudo’s Brooks, and Togyu’s Maelstroms

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One of the premier museums in the country specialising in Japanese paintings, the Yamatane Museum of Art is focusing on all things water this summer. From Edo-era ukiyo-e (Japanese woodblock prints) to modern-style Nihonga (Japanese paintings), a curated selection of work inspired by oceans, rivers, waterfalls, rain and more will be on display, including works from masters such as Yokoyama Taikan, Kawai Gyokudo and Okumura Togyu.

The collection shows the full force of the aquatic element: as a fierce agent, a calming force, a beautiful mirror... and they make a good way to cool down in the hot summer.

Art

Gordon Matta-Clark: Mutation in Space

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A seminal figure in America’s conceptual art scene, Gordon Matta-Clark, who died prematurely at just 35 years old in 1978, is finally getting his first solo exhibition in Asia. A trained architect, his signature ‘building cuts’ are sometimes seen as a rejection of all the profession stands for and you can also find traces of fellow disruptors such as Marcel Duchamp, Robert Smithson, Cristo and more in his work.

At the MOMAT, you’ll have access to over 200 pieces, ranging from sculptures and drawings to films, photographs and related materials. The biggest of his building cuts, ‘Splitting: Four Corners’, will also have its Japan debut.

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Art, Architecture

Japan in Architecture: Genealogies of Its Transformation

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Japanese architecture has proven to be quite the hit, with architects from Kenzo Tange to Kengo Kuma and Tadao Ando getting much national and international acclaim. High time for a full-scale exhibition, the people at the Mori Art Museum must have thought. Structured as a veritable time travel through Japan’s history of architecture, the exhibition is divided into nine sections explaining architecture with keywords such as ‘the possibility of wooden architecture’ or ‘coexistence with nature,’ supported by architectural documents, models, and hands-on installations.

The highlight is a full-scale reproduction of the 'Tai-an', a tea ceremony house connected to Sen no Rikyu, a tea master from the 16th century. If your knowledge is a bit rusty, you can also read up in the book lounge, full of famous modernist furniture pieces.

Art

Audio Architecture

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Better known as Cornelius, Keigo Oyamada’s new composition, Audio Architecture, is dissected by a variety of artists at this epic exhibition. Directed by Yugo Nakamura, who has worked with Oyamada in the past, nine artists have created their own interpretation of Audio Architecture in videographic works, which span anything from film, animation and dance to graphic design, illustration, programming and media design. Throughout it all, Oyamada’s piece will be played on loop creating an immersive experience.

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Art

Foujita: A Retrospective – Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of his Death

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In commemoration of world-famous illustrator Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968), the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum is hosting a grand retrospective encompassing his entire career. You’ll find a large variety of artworks, cutting across genres including landscapes, portraits and nudes. There’s also a substantial amount of pieces on loan from fellow art museums around the globe that will be on display for the first time in Japan.

As a leading artist of the Ecole de Paris, Foujita spent half of his life in France and gained worldwide recognition with his ‘milky-white’ nudes – which, of course, are on display as well during this event.

Kids

Design Ah! Exhibition

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Based on NHK’s educational TV series ‘Design Ah!’, which aims to ‘nurture the design mind’ of kids, this exhibition is a hands-on counterpart to the show. It’s all about looking, thinking and creating, with an Observation Room, Immersion Room and Imagination Room to get young creative minds buzzing and ready to be put to use in the Activity Room. Although the exhibition is geared towards children and making them aware of the power of design, it’s still fun for adults who like to nurture their creative side.

More art in the city

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