Special Saturday Opening, August 21, Noon - 5:00
Winter Garden: The Exploration of the Micropop Imagination in Contemporary Japanese Art
A traveling exhibition from the Japan Foundation
Hiroshi Sugito, Starry Night, 199s (acrylic, pigment, paper on panel)
The Japan Foundation, Toronto
213-131 Bloor St. W., (2nd Floor of the Colonnade Building )
(416) 966-1600 x229
Monday 11:30 – 7:00 (extended hours)
Tuesday 11:30 – 4:30
Wednesday 11:30 – 4:30
Thursday 11:30 – 7:00 (extended hours)
Friday 11:30 – 4:30
Select Saturdays* noon – 5:00
*Saturday openings: August 21; September 11; October 2, 16; November 6
Winter Garden was produced in 2009 under the curation of art critic Midori Matsui as a sequel to the exhibition The Door into Summer (Art Tower Mito, Japan, 2007). Winter Garden features 35 works—drawings, paintings, and video works — by 14 young Japanese artists active from the latter half of the 1990s throughout the first decade of the 21st century. The artists present their distinctive views of world through the combination of fragments, imbuing the obsolete or the commonplace with new functions or meaning. To describe this style of _expression, Matsui coined the word “Micropop.”
Compared with the previous generation of Japanese artists, these artists seem to show a reluctance to take strong political stances or propose salient social paradigms. The younger artists' practices remain diversified, unrelated each other, reflecting the individual pursuit of personal aesthetics and lifestyles.
However, their diversified expressions embody a common ground in depth. They share the following characteristics: the use of inexpensive, expendable materials, techniques, and technological devices accessible even to amateurs; an active interest in everyday life as an arena for renewing perception and developing new types of social communication; the projection of a personal vision or comprehension of the phenomenological world through seemingly playful, comical and childlike presentation; the use of banal commodities, outmoded fashions, obscure or defunct places as resources for unique productions and performances.
The exhibition title, Winter Garden, contains two opposing meanings: a “desolate garden in the winter time” or, idiomatically, a hothouse. This coexistence of opposite meanings embodies the central paradox of the exhibition. The first alludes to the difficulties of contemporary life brought on by globalization: worldwide economic depression, uniformity of living environments, and the disappearance of unique local cultures. On the other hand, the image of a hothouse suggests a space that, in spite of its small scale and closed artificial environment, nurtures organisms, including plants, insects, birds, and microbes- the elements that constitute rich and diverse layers of life. The exhibition attempts to explore the efforts of contemporary artists to make the most of the poverty and boredom inflicted by contemporary life in order to reorganize various aspects of their everyday activities and reinvent effective “ways of operating.”
Midori Matsui is a Tokyo-based art critic and scholar. She has written extensively on Japanese and Western art and culture, and she teaches at Tama and Musashino Art universities. Her critical perspective combines a strong regional focus with an international outlook and reputation.
Matsui writes for a wide variety of periodicals and is the author of Art in a New World : Post-Modern Art in Perspective (Asahi Press, 2000). She was a contributing author to Wolfgang Tillmans (Phaidon, 2002), Painting at the Edge of the World ( Walker Art Center , 2001), Public Offerings (Thames & Hudson, 2001), and Takashi Murakami: The Meaning of the Nonsense of the Meaning (Abrams, 2000). Matsui is currently writing a book about contemporary Japanese art in its cultural context.
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