I recently got a closeup look at Tokyo’s contemporary art scene while filming another show for NHK’s English-language program Tokyo Eye. My fellow reporter this time was actress Lindsay Sakamoto, and the two of us had a grand time running all over Tokyo for four days visiting museums, galleries and art cafes.
The highlight for me was meeting photographer Kikai Hiroh 鬼海弘雄. Those are his photos above, part of a terrific show called “Tokyo Portraits” on at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography until Oct. 2. That’s him in the photo above. (The one with the mustache and goatee. Lindsay’s in the black dress.) I highly recommend the show, by far the best exhibit I’ve seen all year. The people in his portraits are such characters you wonder where he ever found them. (Asakusa, as it turns out. He told us he could have photographed the same people in Ginza or Nihonbashi and never have gotten the same effect. There’s just something about Asakusa.). Check out Alan Gleason’s piece on the show in the current issue of Artscape.
It was also great fun to meet up-and-coming sculptor Abe Nyubo 阿部乳坊, who makes wooden scuptures that are full of movement and meaning. His name is so unusual (the third character means “breast”) that I took a wild guess and asked if maybe just maybe it was his artist’s name. He confirmed it, and explained that he chose it to sound like “Art Nouveau.” (Trust me, this is more plausible when you’ve heard how “Art Nouveau” is pronounced in Japanese.) In any case, Abe is one to watch and in fact has been tapped by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government as an artist worthy of support. And he’s not even thirty yet.
The photo below is an installation Abe did for the Kurobe International Culture Center in Toyama Prefecture . I’d buy it if I had a reflecting pool. It’s titled “Self portrait : Shape Shifter on Water” (2011).
See what we saw and more by tuning in to this episode of Tokyo Eye, which will be broadcast outside of Japan on NHK World on Wednesday September 28 (check local listings for time) and in Japan on NHK BS1 on Tuesday Oct. 4 from 2 pm.