Redefining Japan and Contemporary Art: Towards the Art Scene of the 2020s

Art Venture Office SHOU  
J → E

第19回Domani明日展 カタログテキスト

19th Domani Exhibition Catalogue Text




The program was started as the Overseas Study Program for Artists in 1967 by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, one year prior to the establishment of the Agency for Cultural Affairs. The study program has placed approximately 1,300 participants (including artists, curators and critics) abroad in the last half-century. Out of a total of 58 countries, the most popular sites for research include, in descending order, the USA, France, the UK, and Germany (see pp.126–127). After the Meiji period, when Japanese artists first started going abroad to study, Paris remained the top destination for a long time, though New York became the most attractive place after World War II. It is representative of this shift that Yayoi Kusama and On Kawara moved to New York at the end of the 1950s. The fact that America has been the most popular site for participants reflects the history of the program and its roots in the 1960s.


Looking at the careers of the participating artists, who are all aged in their thirties and forties, there are certain noticeable aspects. They were at university from the late 1990s after the collapse of Japan’s bubble economy and the Great Hanshin Earthquake, and they went abroad around the year 2010, where they surely confronted the situation where Japanese contemporary culture was being internationally reconsidered and redefined. As a result, where and how they experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in 2011, whether in Japan or abroad, also had a large impact on their work. The label “emerging” remains appropriate for them as many of the participating artists passed though the platforms that have been leading the Japanese art scene since the 2000s, such as the VOCA exhibition, Sapporo International Art Festival, Aichi Triennale, and Tokyo Wonder Site. Latent in their artworks is the fuse to ignite the explosion of creativity taking us to a new dimension that has transcended and traversed the divisions between Europe and North America and the Asia-Pacific regions, and between visual art and media arts, taking us toward new possibilities for Japanese contemporary art as it is redefined in the future. (Extract from catalogue text)

Text: Yoko Hayashi