Best art exhibitions in Tokyo this winter

What to see from December until March: enjoy conceptual and surrealist art, mythical scroll paintings, Chinese calligraphy and much, much more
Roppongi Crossing 2019: Connexion
‘Elemental Detection’, Mé, 2016. Photo: Kinugasa Natsumi.
By Time Out Tokyo Editors |
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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 if you head down to one of our favourite art exhibitions taking place in Tokyo this winter. Or, you could wear a warm coat and check out Tokyo's best outdoor art, choose from all exhibitions on right now, or consider investing in a collection of your own.

Don't miss these shows

Art

Ohara Koson

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Active during the late 1800s until his death in 1945, Koson’s works mainly consist of prints of the floral and feathered kinds, which catered to Western tastes. While many of these works were exported to the United States and Europe, they were less known in his native country. It’s only in recent years that Koson’s works are gaining due recognition in Japan...

Art, Masterpiece

Hokusai Updated

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Iconic, influential and prolific, Hokusai’s ukiyo-e woodblock prints are some of the most instantly-recognisable pieces of Japanese art around the world – in particular, his ‘Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji’ series and of course, ‘The Great Wave’. These works and almost 500 others are on show in an extraordinary collection at the Mori Museum, including some recently discovered and never-before-shown pieces. Hokusai Updated casts a comprehensive view of the artist’s work, from age 20 until the time he put down his brush at the age of 90. The eccentric artist ended up producing around 30,000 works of art...

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'Untitled', 1952, Saburo Hasegawa. Photo: Kevin Noble.
Art

Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan

icon-location-pin Yokohama Museum of Art, Minato Mirai
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Sculptor (and landscape architect, and theatrical-set and furniture designer) Isamu Noguchi was an emblematic figure of the 20th century art scene, who crossed between two different cultures. He studied the ideas and philosophies of the Western art movement and the traditional arts of Japan...

Paula Scher
Design: Paula Scher
Art

Paula Scher: Serious Play

icon-location-pin Ginza Graphic Gallery, Ginza
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Paula Scher is one of the most influential graphic designers in the world. Her works are often described as whimsical, iconic, smart and accessible. The title ‘Serious Play’ refers to the process of her work cycle, which starts from ‘serious’ to ‘solemn’, ‘hackneyed’, ‘extremely bored’ and finally ‘rediscovered’. The exhibition presents important paintings and screenprints, including 16 works from her ‘Map’ series that she has been working on for the last 20 years...

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Art

Sophie Calle ‘Exquisite Pain’ from the Hara Museum Collection

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One of France’s most famous conceptual artists, Sophie Calle is largely known for her confessional narrative works. This year, the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art will reprise Calle’s work ‘Exquisite Pain’, which was originally created for the museum and first exhibited in 1999/2000. The exhibition is divided into two parts and highlights the grief and recovery of a broken heart that Calle personally experienced...

‘Frolicking Animals, Nekomata and Tanuki Badger’, Kawanabe Kyosai, 19th Century. Kawanabe Kyosai Memorial Museum.
Art

Kawanabe Kyosai: Nothing Escaped His Brush

icon-location-pin Suntory Museum of Art, Roppongi
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Known as the ‘demon of painting’, Kawanabe Kyosai (1831-1889) playfully depicted spirits, animals and otherworldly creatures in his works. Recent research has revealed how Kyosai expanded his artistic oeuvres by taking in advanced new painting techniques, expressions and even themes, while at the same time staying true to the traditional Kano School styles and methods...

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LEIKO IKEMURA OUR PLANET – EARTH & STARS
'Sinus Spring', Leiko Ikemura, 2018. Collection of the artist.
Art

Leiko Ikemura Our Planet – Earth & Stars

icon-location-pin The National Art Center, Tokyo (NACT), Nogizaka
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This large-scale solo exhibition focuses on the work of internationally acclaimed artist Leiko Ikemura, who has lived in Europe for over 40 years. The free-flowing gestures of her paintings, drawings and prints, in which shapes and contours dissolve in the soft colours she employs, exalt a singular imagination. Ikemura’s works depict various aspects of creation with motifs including spirits, people and creatures...

Art, Photography

Changing Ruins Exhibition

icon-location-pin Todays Gallery Studio, Asakusabashi
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Today’s Gallery Studio in Asakusabashi is hosting a new exhibition showcasing the beauty of ruins. The concept behind the photography feature is to transform these dark, desolate ruins into works of art. The 15 participating photographers visited over 300 ruins throughout Japan, from decaying ballrooms to abandoned schools to hidden temples...

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Art

Toshiko Okanoue, Photo Collage: The Miracle of Silence

icon-location-pin Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, Shirokanedai
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Surrealism – as an artistic, intellectual and literary movement – experimented and tried to find ways of visualising the subconscious mind, quickly developing several techniques in both painting and photography. The movement spread throughout the world and was certainly felt in Japan...

LINEAGE OF ECCENTRICS: THE MIRACULOUS WORLD OF EDO PAINTING
‘Immortals’ (Detail), Soga Shohaku, 1764.
Art

Lineage of Eccentrics: The Miraculous World of Edo Painting

icon-location-pin Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Ueno
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Based on art historian Nobuo Tsuji’s 1970 book ‘Lineage of Eccentrics’, this exhibition explores the powerfully imaginative world of Edo paintings. Major works by eight prominent artists – Iwasa Matabei, Kano Sansetsu, Ito Jakuchu, Soga Shohaku, Nagasawa Rosetsu, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Hakuin Ekaku and Suzuki Kiitsu – will be shown in one venue, complemented with a number of important cultural properties...

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