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チェックと日本の現代美術界についての感想

Narakami worldwide takeover

2010年9月8日


Whatever way you look at it, as far as the global art world is concerned, Japanese contemporary art still only equals two names: Yoshitomo Nara and Takashi Murakami. To underline this point, New York and Paris are this weekend and next, being taken over by big new openings for the two wayward partners of the "new pop revolution". Nara opens a big retrospective at the Asia Society in New York, while Murakami fills the Palais de Versailles with happy flowers and mushrooms.

I've had my say recently on Murakami, Paris and Beat Kitano -- the fishy Japanese French connection. Voilà.

http://www.art-it.asia/u/rhqiun/9yIl4rkiFfN3Rh7PJEgd/

The Nara show is more interesting, in that curator Miwako Tezuka has actively tried to reframe the reading of Nara away from the usual "kawaiii" perspective into one that emphasises his role as a pop culture icon, and particularly, the role of rock music and fandom in his work.

I helped Tezuka out a little with her essay for the catalogue, and it is a good move. Particularly interesting is the issue of "populism" in Nara's work, that became so visible with his large scale "community" projects in Hirosaki, and which led famously to a disagreement between Nara and critic/curator Midori Matsui. Matsui's career as a writer and critic rose through her early association with Nara and her key writings about him. We now get the chance to rethink a little Nara's role as the Godfather of "Micropop".

Still, at neither show is the world being shown anything new or even "contemporary" as far as the Japanese art world is concerned. The question remains: how much longer have we got before the world gets bored with images of Akihabara cosplay or a lonely 60s childhood in Northern Japan?

A lot hinges on David Elliott's upcoming response to all this at Japan Society, New York, in the Spring... "Bye Bye Kitty!". For my money, he is still relying a little too much on graphic artists and Mizuma's golden years in the early 2000s, but it will be the moment for a decisive new framing of Japanese contemporary art. Perhaps. On verra bien...

ADRIAN FAVELL
http://www.adrianfavell.com

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Narakami worldwide takeover
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