Japanese pop art in Tate Modern, London

Cover The world goes pop 2On 17 September 2015  the exhibition The World Goes Pop was opened at the Tate Modern in London and Shinohara Ushio’s Doll Festival (1966) was chosen for the front cover of the exhibition catalogue.
The exhibition in Tate Modern concentrates on the phenomenon of pop art throughout the world, in particular outside the well-known ‘pop art regions’ such as the United States and the United Kingdom. Japan is covered in the exhibition too. The catalogue holds a short article by modern Japanese art specialist Tomii Reiko (‘Oiran Goes Pop: Contemporary Japanese Artists Reinventing Icons’, pp. 95-103).

Tomii describes the emergence of Pop in Japan and that “ ‘Pop in Japan’ has long been an elusive category, frequently subsumed into other practices, especially the dominant vanguard movement of Anti-Art (Han geijutsu)” (p. 95). She discusses amongst other the work of Shinohara Ushio (1932). He is well known for his pop versions of oiran, Japan’s high class courtesan’s of old times, which were frequently depicted in Japanese prints (Ukiyo-e). According to Tomii Ukiyo-e can be seen as a form of proto-Pop. Another important series of works by Shinohara is Imitation Art. In this series Shinohara copied the installation Coca Cola plan (1958) by Robert Rauschenberg and through such works Shinohara wanted to question the matter of originality in art.

The second part of The World Goes Pop catalogue consists of an interview section of interviews held with pop artists in 2014-2015. Shinohara, Tadanori Yokoo (1936), Tanaami Keiichi (1936) and Matsumoto Toshio (1932) were  among the Japanese artists who were interviewed.

For more information on the exhibition, visit the Tate website. Until 24 January 2016.

Reiko Tomii, ‘Oiran Goes Pop: Contemporary Japanese Artists Reinventing Icons’ in Jessica Morgan and Flavia Frigeri, The EY Exhibition: The World Goes Pop, London: Tate Publishing 2015, pp. 95-103. ISBN 9781849762700.