Tokyo Midtown Design Touch: Graphic Trial 2015

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Japan is known to be one of the artistically and technologically leading countries in the world– and with good reason! For a country that is so urbanized with its countless skyscrapers and constant improvements of functionality in everyday objects, they make room for a surprising amount of art. You can walk around almost any part of Tokyo and find something new and visually challenging.

The other day I was visiting a friend at Tokyo Midtown, which is a large shopping center in Roppongi, and we stumbled upon an art show called “Graphic Trial 2015,” a part of “Tokyo Midtown Design Touch.” It’s probably not one of the larger or more well-known shows (Takashi Murakami is showing at the Mori Art Museum right now, by the way!), but in a smaller gallery called the Design Hub. The following text is an excerpt from their pamphlet:

“Graphic Trial” began in 2006 as an attempt to capture new means of expression by examining in detail the relationship between graphic design and printing techniques. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the project, this exhibition will showcase a total of 210 posters created through collaborations between 42 groups pairing a creative artist with a printing director of Toppan Printing. The posters will be accompanied by various ‘printing experiments’, and will go on show in two terms.

Prints of big animals made from tiny lines

Honestly, I forgot to take down the names of the artists because they were written in such tiny print beneath on the floorboards, but the details in these prints were crazy. It’s hard to see from the distance that this photo was taken, but the jellyfish are made of a bunch of thin lines. Basically all these animals are made from tinier little drawings!

A colorful, minimal depiction of the printing process

This one somehow made me feel more at home just because it feels slightly more reminiscent of Kandinsky. This modern interpretation of the printing process seemed like a foreigner in this art space (like me, harhar), when compared with the other works exhibited.

Prints of children that look bubbly and fresh

This one looks more “characteristic” of Japan. Youth is of big value here. I think originally this was shown in 2013 in “Graphic Trial” (an annual exhibition of graphic works at the museum), so a lot of these prints were brought back from past shows to make one mega-collection of past Tokyo Midtown showings.

Anyway, we spent about a good hour here (the space isn’t that large), but we got to see a lot of different kinds of art; and next door in a glass studio, there were some Musashino Art Center students getting some work done. I couldn’t see exactly what they were doing because their workspace was so blocked off (it was probably also their midterm season), which somehow excited me. It’s nice to see people in their natural environment, focused on something they (hopefully) love .

We felt so renewed after having walked around Roppongi’s urban jungle. I honestly think that little spaces of art like this are something that Japan does really well (and maybe a little underappreciated in America). Imagine if we had nothing like this to look at! Our brains would go crazy from all the technical parts of life and mundane desk jobs (unless you enjoy that. Then all the more power to you). So take that beaten path! Check out the little gardens on the side of the building! Japan is almost bursting with art.

Other recommendations (though their exhibits will always be changing):
– Mori Art Museum (Yayoi Kusama was showing here, but I just missed it. SO BUMMED…)
– National Art Center
– 2121 Design Sight
– MOMAT
– Ginza for cool modern architecture
– Meiji Shrine for traditional, wooden architecture (and nature!)

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