Friday, August 28, 2009

"Art is Explosion!" (岡本太郎美術館)

"Art is Explosion!"

That was the catch phrase coined (and comically shouted) by Japan's most famous and influential abstract artist / sculptor / and all-around artistic personality Taro Okamoto (1911~1996).

Having been inspired by his gigantic mural "Tomorrow's Mythology" in Shibuya Station, I decided to take a visit to the Taro Okamoto Museum of Art in Kawasaki City. The museum is a bit out of the way from central Tokyo, but well worth a day trip if you are interested in viewing some quirky and unique pieces from one of Japan's leading creative minds.

Taro Okamoto dropped out of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts after half a year, only to move to Paris with the aim of becoming a painter. After encountering Pablo Picasso's famous work "Pitcher and a Bowl of Fruit", Okamoto began to walk the path of abstract art.

In his later years, he often spoke at length in interviews about his independent artistic theory of “polarism”, in which all his trademark elements, such as wavy lines, bright colors, and playful figures, came together in direct opposition with each other.

Okamoto's most famous work is his "Tower of the Sun" in Osaka, an artistic image that continues to be extremely relevant in modern Japanese pop-culture (*For one example, please refer to the excellent manga series 20th Century Boys).

Many of Okamoto's larger sculpture works are on public display at locations throughout Tokyo or in other Japanese cities. Though he is no longer with us, his presence lingers on in these wonderful pieces.


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