Japan must be one of the most underrated fine art centers in the world, there is not one shred of doubt in my mind. In venturing into the many galleries in Japan, there is mostly on show very high quality praxis that equals the intentionality of ideas as seen in the drawings, sculpture or installations. The lifestyle of Japanese artists is one of real commitment with little or no lifetime finacial reward for the effort, they have just applied themsleves to their praxis and it shows, which really makes one think, just how committed and wonderful as artists they are, it's a humbling experience.
By comparison Australian artists seem so very spoilt, its not funny ( they appear to want big houses, lifestyle and studios mostly, whether this is a good thing or bad thing, is yet to be decided. But there is sneaking suspicion, it is bad in comparison to what is happening in Japan now. And here in Nippon it seems fine art is not not about the British/Eurocentric money ego trip, it's about fine art, with good ideas and this show by Shimokura and Mitsuhiro is not only interesting but the craft of the installation is intelligently made, making it a pleasure to engage.
In walking into gallery a hose was laid out over the floor, attached to a tap and it looks as though they're cleaning the first gallery, so careful steps were being made to avoid any mess which couldn't be seen. Suddenly, at the end of end of the hose (see Shimokura's photograph) water came spilling out in the shape of a spillage. But the water had florescent sensation which one soon realised was from an over head projection, it was a short but savvy installation and immensely likeable.
More often than not film and installation is dull or cliched in Australia but this particular piece by Shimokura is an unnerving, yet surprising because as soon as one enters the gallery, there is the expectation of cleaning and not art happening, Shimokura's ability to subtly deconstruct the space as a non event for the audience, then cleverly bring it to its purpose, that being a contemporary art space reveals a very well thought out piece of deception, like the historical Ukiyo-e artists had used in well known public signifiers to get around Edo censors.
In the next gallery is Okatamoto's artworks and its good to see an artist who still interested in art and politics, because they rarely separate in art and life, as recently exmapled in the media saga of the Australian artists Bill Henson's photography of a nude girl, which the Prime Minister called "disgusting". Prime Minister Rudd will surely have left one of those iconic art phases sad for him.
But nonetheless, here in this show Okatamoto's artwork takes on this Eurocentirc politically ironic behavior through his Euro coin installation. Its a clever piece of art constructed out of a supposive united European currency that are embossed with heavily nationalistic images in the middle of them from associated countries, all one can say to that is, it sounds like unity and nationalistic diversity is like a bad marriage of economic convenience, heading for an even worse case in the international divorce courts sooner or later.
Another interesting piece is the police car tarpaulin, that laces up from behind on the boot of the car, this is similar to the Japanese wrestler politician who wears a mask. The police artworks was then taken and placed over a car in a street. The installation photograph of the car draped with the police tarpaulin in the street is priceless and most enjoyable to see, it looks authentic from a distance but it the takes on a kind of interactive piece of art, due to the signifier of the police car, one only wishes to have had a camera running to capture the expressions on the audiences as the engaged the police car artwork.
This is a very good art show and if your in Kyoto, please go to Gallery Haneusagi it will be well worth your while.
Link to Gallery Haneusagi: