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  • Writer's pictureIna

Japan House London displays artworks by 60 Japanese graphic artists until October

Discover the rich spectrum of Japanese graphic arts in a daring show that crosses the boundaries of fine art, commercial illustration, and counterculture. Japan House London displays works of 60 Japanese artists, including pioneers of the late 20th century Tanaami Keiichi and Yumura Teruhiko, as well as a number of up-and-coming creators whose works are on display for the first time in the UK.

Gallery view of UNTITLED by Yukishita Mayu, portraying a young woman who enters the scene confidently staring back at her audience. Her characteristic theme has a lot in common with Ninagawa Mika's Tokyo pictures and also manga in the gaze's magnified eyes. The artist blends digital technology and painting in a lifelike manner.

Pop art, surrealism, and illustration are among the graphic arts styles exhibited in the "WAVE: Currents in Japanese Graphic Arts" exhibition. Heta-uma, which translates to "bad but good," is a term for work that, with closer examination, reveals more quality.

Gallery view of Face 38 by artist Yano Keiji (2022). At first glance, Yano Keiji's hazy faces appear to be influenced by the morotai (haziness) tradition, however the technique is utterly contemporary; the artwork is inkjet printed on washi paper.

Heta-uma, which first appeared in the underground manga magazine GARO in the 1970s, questions our perceptions of what is "ugly" or "beautiful" and our ideas of what constitutes art.

Gallery view of Lace-up Dress by Sugawa Makiko. After losing her own leg to cancer as a young lady, Sugawa Makiko made the decision to depict sensuous, stylish ladies using prosthetic legs in her artwork. She began experimenting with this technique right from her hospital bed.

WAVE features the bold, anarchic portrayals of girlhood by Jenny Kaori against the sombre, photorealistic photographs by Yukishita Mayu and the charming picture book illustrations by the husband-and-wife pair tupera tupera.

slimeLXXV by Tomozawa Kotao. Art has always been a passion for Tomozawa since she was a very young child. She draws inspiration from Francis Bacon's "strong physical sensation of pain" and strives for the same degree of expressiveness in her ominous, warped artwork. Tomozawa uses biological elements, including slime, in her artwork to portray "the absurdity [she feels] in the middle of the every day."

WAVE: Currents in Japanese Graphic Arts, which was inspired by a yearly exhibition of the same name in Tokyo and was organised by the artists Hiro Sugiyama and Takahashi Kintar, offers a unique chance to see the variety of Japanese illustration and graphic arts in one location outside of Japan.

You can find the entire list of featured artists here.


📍 Visit Japan House London at 101-111 Kensington High St, London W8 5SA.

📅 WAVE: Currents in Japanese Graphic Arts will be on display at Japan House London until October 22, 2023.

⏰ 10 am – 8 pm, Monday – Saturday; 12 pm-6 pm, Sunday.

🚇 The nearest London Underground stations are High Street Kensington (on the District and Circle Lines), Gloucester Road ( Circle, District, and Piccadilly lines) and Notting Hill Gate (Central, District, and Circle lines).


*All photos were taken by Ina/WithinLondon, unless stated otherwise.


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