From Yayoi Kusama’s pioneering works of Japanese Pop Art to Yasumasa Morimura’s role-playing in his portraits from the 1980s, the exhibition Trans-Cool TOKYO provides an opportunity to view works by these groundbreaking Japanese artists who have made an indelible impact on contemporary art.
Featuring over 40 works from the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo collection, this exhibition also tells the story of how Japanese artists, since the second half of the 1990s, have established their own creative identities within the context of global pop culture. Working across all mediums, from painting and sculpture, to performance, photography, and video, the featured artists have created work in response to the onset of the information age and the greater freedoms and uncertainties that are available in contemporary society.
Trans-Cool TOKYO is co-organised by the Singapore Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo.
Now let’s take a tour of Trans-Cool TOKYO. Great for those who missed it!
My personal favourite:
Stuffed animal, glassbeads
Fascinated with how we interact and mediate the world of virtual reality and the internet, Nawa sources taxidermic objects from online auction sites and layers these surfaces with transparent glass beads. These mediated layer of glass beads reference the pixel of the computer screen that we so often come in contact with today, but also reduces our visualisation of the object to tiny particles of light. The veil of differing sizes of glass beads on the surface of the taxidermied animal magnifies it in some areas and distorts it in others. This plays on the perception of reality and questioning how we encounter our daily environment and how we try to comprehend what we are seeing.
Pick up something from FRAC Champagne-Ardenne and bring it into the city, then make some noise
7 DVDs, 11 Type C-prints
A mixed-media artist who uses video and found objects to create whimsical reflections of everyday life, Tanaka’s artistic practice revolves around commenting on the banalities of everyday life with humour and social criticism.
Walking on the Sea of Death
Mixed media (Sewn stuffed fabric, wooden boat, paint)
Walking on the Sea of Death is linked to the feminist theme and exploration in Kusama’s career. The otherwise harmless-looking boat and its oars have sprouted both sea creature-like tentacles and the random fruit like some alien life form. While these organic forms may cause possible revulsion and anxiety, Kusama suggests that by proliferating many of them together as such the tension can be controlled.
Data.matrix [no 1-10]
Using mathematical methods, Ikeda explores the world by reducing everyday stimuli like sound and light into basic data elements such as sine waves and pixels, which he then uses to compose audiovisual installations. The computer generated visuals are graphic renderings of the analysis and reduction of data. These renderings show the digital sequencing and studies of software code that Ikeda has employed. The hypnotic soundtrack layers various pared down components to create an acoustic space in which visitors can experience. Ikeda’s richly layered works of irreducible elements of the world in digital data format experiments with the way we can experience the world through different senses.
Acrylic on canvas
Symbols of immaturity and vulnerability, only to be brandishing of innocence, these children and animals in his work view the world with this much suspicion, anger and fear, reacting (and rejecting) adult sensibilities in contemporary Japan society. His subversion of innocence, by infusing it with elements of rebellion and evil, offers a commentary on the rigid social conventions of Japanese society and its effects on its people.
Artificial flower metals
Kojin creates dreamy interpretations of reality, stimulating the imaginative power of viewers, allowing them to see the beauty in the everyday. reflectwo is the view Kojin sees from her studio, with the surface of the lake reflecting an image of the trees and forest. The work engages the viewer in questioning the way we live with and view nature today. Despite the work being made out of artificial flower petals, there is a natural beauty that arises from the unique arrangement of them.
Dye and medium on satin 194 × 97 cm
Updating the traditional and cultural past of Japan to the contemporary, he borrows delicately painted patterns of antique plates and vases from old auction-house catalogues, fusing them with layers of painted dyes that together produce a dramatic image of bold and soft colors absorbed by the silk blend canvases. This innovative painting technique is reminiscent of Japan’s traditional ink painting techniques.
Turbojet engine, fuel, aluminium, stainless steel, carbon, custom paint, etc.
Challenging the notion of societal conventions and rules, the tried and tested way of doing things, is the core of Hachiya’s practice. Hachiya combines fields such as art and science together to create serious flights of fantasy that allow people to dream of new possibilities. Airboard β, for example, was conceived as a personal mode of transportation that could replace aeroplanes, combining a skateboard and a jet engine. A realisation of the flying skateboard in the 1985 Hollywood blockbuster Back to the Future, Hachiya trained himself to use the volatile jet engine to conduct experiments with the Airboard, trying to stand on the board and lifting off the ground for a few seconds (he succeeded, some 10 cm above ground for a few seconds).
Other things you can find at Singapore Art Musuem: