“Until the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Japanese language did not have a word for fine art. The word bijutsu was constructed, combining Chinese characters bi, for beauty, and jutsu, for craft. This hybrid term reveals the unique trajectory of Japanese contemporary art, different from the foundations of contemporary art in the West.
Tokyo Pop Underground, curated by Tokyo gallerist Shinji Nanzuka, explores the complex history of Japanese contemporary art from the 1960s to the present through the works of seventeen artists who emerged from pop and underground culture.
Shinji Nanzuka explains that “originally in Japan, most of what is referred to as art are practical items, developed together and in integration with popular culture.” He cites examples from calligraphy to folding screens, paintings on sliding paper doors, lacquerware, netsuke, and the Ukiyo-e prints that served as posters and commercial portraits. He also mentions art historian Naoyuki Kinoshita’s study of intricately realistic handicrafts such as iki-ningyou, life-like dolls that were made for exhibitory performances. Nanzuka’s mission in this exhibition is to present contemporary artistic commentaries on this Japanese artistic heritage.” – per website
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