Art in Wonderland


Artists: Eisaku Tanaka, Shintaro Tanaka, Natsuyuki Nakanishi, Yuri Nonaka, Yutaka Hatta, Yoichi Hirata, Kei Hiraga, Michio Fukuoka, Shigeo Fukuda, Masakazu Horiuchi, Josaku Maeda, Yutaka Matsuda, Tomio Miki, Teruo Miyagi, Aiko Miyawaki, Shuji Mukai, Yoshio Murakami, Akira Mokubo, Ryohei Yanagihara, Katsuhiro Yamaguchi, Keigo Yamamoto, Kazuo Yuhara, Minoru Yoshida, Toshio Yoshida, Michio Yoshihara, Masunobu Yoshimura, Makoto Wada, Hiroshi Akana, Genpei Akasegawa, Shoji lida, Takamichi lto, Takayasu lto, Bukichi Inoue, Norio Imai, Kumiko Imanaka, Kazuo Okazaki, Taro Okamoto, Shinjiro Okamoto, Yukiko Katsura, Joji Kikunami, Mokuma Kikuhata, Yoji Kuri, Nobuaki Kojima, Masaru Konno, Yoshishige Saito, Morio Shinoda, Ushio Shinohara, Kazuo Shiraga, Shin Shingu, Kohei Sugiura, Yoshinori Suzuki, Yoshio Sekine, Shu Takahashi, Soshichi Takama, Jiro Takamatsu, Minami Tada and Masatoshi Tamaki

Shinjiro Okamoto

Shinjiro Okamoto (1933-2020) taught himself watercolor painting after graduating from the Tokyo Metropolitan Nihonbashi High School. In the 1960s, he established a style of painting composed of simple lines and bright acrylic paint colors. In 1962 and 1964, he received honorable mentions at the Shell Art Awards and, in 1964, the grand prize at the inaugural Nagaoka Contemporary Art Museum Awards. Since then, he has participated in numerous exhibitions in and out of Japan, including the Tokyo Biennale and the Contemporary Art Exhibition of Japan. In recent years, he has received growing international acclaim as an artist presenting an aspect of post-war Japan, as exemplified by his inclusion in the International Pop, an exhibition that situated Pop Art within an international context (which toured the Walker Art Center, Dallas Museum of Art, and Philadephia Museum of Art). His first exhibition at Tokyo Gallery, The World of Insects: Or the Scenery of Swarm, was held in 1966. In addition, he also worked as an Art Director at Toppan Printing Co., Ltd. Until 1981, where he excelled for his work in the field of design.
During his long career, Okamoto developed many series in different styles. His subjects range from pre-war popular culture to art, religion, and history. The works are based on meticulous sketches, and dispassionate brush strokes create lively forms across the image. One of the most striking aspects of Okashin’s [an abbreviation of OKAmoto SHINjiro] world is the way in which a single image is recreated in different variations of color and size using techniques such as lithographs, silk-screen, three-dimensional painting, and sculptural objects. These proliferating images transform the exhibition space to an overwhelming spectacle. The upbeat and festive pictorial spaces do indeed entertain the viewers, but at the same time do not pander to them, presenting a calmness akin to an eye of a storm.

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Yoshio Sekine

Yoshio Sekine was born in Wakayama, Japan. Sekine met the influential painter Jiro Yoshihara (1905-1972) through the Jiyu Bijutsu Kyoukai (Free Artists' Association) and was involved in the founding of the avant-garde Gutai group in 1954. In 1955, Sekine participated in The 7th Yomiuri Independent Exhibition. In 1958, his work was selected for an exhibition curated by Michel Tapié (1909-1987), The International Art of a New Era: Informel and Gutai, which launched at the Takashimaya Department Store in Osaka and then travelled to Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. Sekine left Gutai and moved to Tokyo in 1959. At The 15th Yomiuri Independent Exhibition in 1963, he presented a painting of an abacus for the first time. From this point, Sekine went on to build his oeuvre around recurring motifs such as abacuses, gates, rail wagons and Mt. Fuji. His other notable exhibitions include Trends in Contemporary Art: Paintings and Sculptures (the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, 1964), The 2nd Nagaoka Contemporary Art Museum Award Exhibition (Nagaoka-shi, Niigata, 1965) and The 1960’s: A Decade of Change in Contemporary Japanese Art (the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 1981, later travelling to the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto). Sekine also received the prestigious Mainichi Art Award in 1952.

The abacus was perhaps the most prominent subject in Sekine's artistic career. He produced many works iterating this motif in a diverse range of colour schemes and compositions until his later years. Abacus beads can be moved and rearranged, each configuration signifying a number. Because of this reconfigurability and semiotic function, abacus beads make an intriguing motif for generating geometric compositions. In some of his works, the bead configuration indicates the date the work was completed. Through such play on a numerical sign system, Sekine's depictions of abacuses seem to turn to abstraction. Simultaneously, these works could also be seen as representational images that bring out the abstract qualities inherent to the abacus itself, achieving a new kind of 'realism' that transcends traditional illusionism.

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