Japan’s graphic art exhibition opens in Kensington

The creative output of 60 of Japan’s most significant graphic artists working today has arrived in London, as an exhibition about the Japanese wave of graphic art opens.

Walking in, you’re confronted in the distance by a grinning distorted face which is more horror story than the cute Japanese image you might be expecting, but it’s also the only painting of that genre. The rest of the collection is quite wide-ranging, from delicate landscapes to pop art to very modern, covering the periods from the 1960s to the current day.

There are examples of Heta-uma, which is loosely translated as “bad, but good”, and is a rebellion against traditional ideas of good taste and technical skill. Originally spread through magazines, it’s now traditional enough itself to appear in galleries.

Some of the most unsettling at times are in the sureal section, and one of a foggy out of focus face seems otherworldly. What we might call pop art is here, and science fiction — don’t look too closely at what’s between the legs of the metal dinosaur.

A very useful guide is handed to you as you enter, and it’s worth reading each page as you wander around as that adds a lot of context to the exhibition.

Although it’s a collection of works based around a genre of modern graphic artists, there’s quite a wide variety on show, so feels a bit like a collection of smaller exhibitions in one room. In that way, most people will find something to like and something to really not like at all.

The exhibition is based on the annual WAVE exhibition which has taken place in Tokyo since 2018, and is at Japan House London on Kensington High Street until 22nd October 2023.

It’s free to visit – open Mon-Sat from 10am to 8pm and on Sundays from noon to 6pm.

This article was published on ianVisits


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