Koji Kinutani

Experience a world of colour at the Koji Kinutani Tenku Art Museum

Heading to Osaka? Don’t miss your chance to see this Kansai native’s impressive artworks

Kaila Imada
Written by
Kaila Imada

In association with Koji Kinutani Tenku Art Museum 

A beautifully serene space on the 27th floor of Osaka’s Umeda Sky Building is dedicated entirely to artist Koji Kinutani, an influential force in the Japanese art world for more than 40 years.

Opened in December 2016, the Koji Kinutani Tenku Art Museum is a stunning gallery home to the largest collection of Kinutani’s pieces anywhere, and also boasts the colourful Tenku café, sprawling views of the city and a studio space where you might be lucky enough to spot the artist himself.

The museum is a real feast for your senses, showcasing everything from 3D visuals to mixed-media masterpieces and sculptures along a journey through Kinutani’s artistic world. Here are four things to look forward to on your visit.

1. 3D visuals
It’s best to start your tour in the Symbol Zone, where you’ll enter a movie room to watch a short visual on Kinutani’s art and inspiration. Slide on your 3D glasses and prepare for a magical journey through the Nara native’s artistic vision and sensibilities.

The video literally brings the work to life, transforming Kinutani’s usual 2D paintings into moving images stemming from some of his best-known pieces. For those seeing Kinutani’s art for the very first time, the 3D video is an exciting introduction into his colourful world and to the messages behind his artwork.

2. Two worlds
Kinutani’s art is divided into two colour-coded areas in the museum space: Exhibition Zones Blue and Red. Zone Blue is filled with frescoes, multimedia paintings and sculptures all inspired by the artist’s time in Italy. You’ll notice the influence in everything from paintings of the map of Italy to depictions of world peace with angels in various situations.

Zone Red is reserved for more Asian-tinged works, inspired specifically by Japanese culture and including landscapes of Osaka Castle and Mount Fuji as well as ancient Japanese folk tales. After visiting both areas, you’ll be able to appreciate the variety of Kinutani’s oeuvre while understanding his background and what has inspired him over the years.

3. One-of-a-kind masterpieces
Koji Kinutani is most famed for his fresco-style murals and mixed-media works that include sculptures and paintings. His fresco painting techniques were perfected back when he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice, where he learned the secrets of this classical style. After returning to Japan, Kinutani continued to create his own fresco-style works while educating students on the topic at Tokyo University of the Arts and Osaka University of Arts.

Another one of Kinutani’s signature styles is the strappo technique. Used in his mixed-media works, it sees glue painted and stripped off dry canvas for a unique composition and texture. On top of this, the artist’s multimedia pieces are laced with unique materials like gold leaf and semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli for a vibrant colour scheme you wouldn’t be able to achieve through normal paint.

Finally, sculptures are another key component of Kinutani’s collection. These pieces are carefully sculpted from styrofoam, then given intricate detail with paint and other media to convey his messages.

4. Art and culture for everyone
There’s no space without meaning at this museum, where everything is thoughtfully designed based on Kinutani’s inspiration and vision. You’ll feel like you’re floating through the sky as you walk over the cloud-patterned carpet to find small snippets of Osaka hidden between the clouds. The gallery also keeps track of the sunset time, so if you’re up there at the right hour you can enjoy the stunning city skyline just as the sun sets over Osaka Bay.

There’s even a dedicated workshop where you can let your creative side take over. Kinutani strives to spread his hopes and dreams through his art and spark the creative minds of the young generation. We couldn’t imagine a better place for realising that goal than this endlessly creative hub.

Koji Kinutani Tenku Art Museum
Umeda Sky Building Tower West 27F, 1-1-30 Oyodonaka, Kita-ku, Osaka. 06 6440 3760. kinutani-tenku.jp/en. ¥1,000, college, high school and junior high students ¥600, elementary school students and younger free.

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