岡本太郎記念館

‘Transparent Anger’

November 7, 2007 - January 14, 2008

Taro Okamoto was generally cheerful and humorous, but the moment he discovered some essential distortion in an object or the ugliness of the people who produce this, he lost his temper and expressing his anger in various ways, turned it on society. A lot of his works and writings, such as the famous calligraphy piece, Don’t Kill or his Myth of Tomorrow, use anger as their motif.

However, Taro Okamoto’s ‘anger’ did not always confront the viewer with a terrible appearance. For instance, in his Myth of Tomorrow he depicts a proud image of humanity that goes beyond tragedy, while roaring with laughter, demonstrating that he stands in a dimension that exists far above simple exacerbation or personal grievance.

‘Transparent Anger’. This is perhaps the best way to describe Taro’s anger.

The emotion of anger stems from the collision of humanity’s innately rich sensitivity, but in the present day, which appears to be losing its clarity, Taro’s anger provides us food for thought. I would like to share Taro’s ‘transparent anger’ with you all.

This exhibition will also include a new work by Shunsaku Hishikari, the winner of the ‘Toshiko Okamoto Prize’ in the 10th Okamoto Taro Memorial Award for Contemporary Art, on the theme of ‘a collaboration with Taro’. We hope that you will enjoy it.

‘Katsuki Tanaka’s Taro Beam!’

April 26, 2007 - July 29, 2007

As the final guest curator in this series, we have chosen the man who knows Taro and Toshiko the best, Yuji Yamashita. The leading art historian in Japan today and the author of Okamoto Taro sengen (Declaration of Becoming Taro Okamoto), which caused a sensation when it was first published; he presents a collaboration between, Katsuki Tanaka, an aloof artist and possessor of unique aesthetics that he utilizes to pioneer a new world of expression, and Taro. The result can truly be described as being a collaborative work between Taro and Katsuki.
We hope that you will enjoy this unprecedented, adventurous experiment.

‘Searching for an Invisible Horizon’

January 27, 2007 - April 22, 2007日

For the second in our guest curator series, we have invited Koichi Watari, curator of the Watari-Um Museum, an institution that continuously introduces new trends in the contemporary art world. For this exhibition, he has selected a young artist named Zon Ito to challenge Taro. This will be the first time that an artist other than Taro has been featured in the Memorial Museum. We hope that you will look forward to seeing the world that appears as a result of this experiment.

‘To the Unknown Taro Within Taro’

October 18, 2006 - January 21, 2007

For the upcoming guest curator series of exhibitions we have chosen three people most suited to discussing Taro Okamoto to come and curate an exhibition, allowing them to play freely with Taro. The first curator in this series will be Noi Sawaragi, one of the country’s leading art critics.
Entitled ‘To the Unknown Taro Within Taro’, this project overflows with creative stimuli. Please come and enjoy this ‘new Taro’ that nobody has ever seen before.
We hope that you will like the renewed Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum that has changed from ‘the place where Toshiko talks about Taro’ to ‘the place where everybody can talk about Taro.’

‘The Road to the Restoration of “Myth of Tomorrow”’

July 6, 2006 - October 15, 2006

Through the enthusiastic support of numerous people, the restoration of the Myth of Tomorrow is finally complete. Taro Okamoto’s powerful message has surpassed time and space to come to us today. Timed to coincide with the public display of the mural at Shiodome, this exhibition will show the process by which the foundation set about the restoration of the Myth of Tomorrow. Featuring materials actually used in the restoration, it will give an insider’s view of the entire project, from the mural’s dismantling in Mexico to its restoration in Ehime Prefecture. We hope that you will come and enjoy this overview of the restoration of Myth of Tomorrow into which Toshiko Okamoto poured her enthusiasm as her ‘final mission in life.’

‘The Graphics of Taro Okamoto’

April 5, 2006 - July 3, 2006

One facet of Taro Okamoto’s world of expression was graphic design. Posters, playing cards, long-sleeved kimono, clocks, neckties, tapestries…Taro gave life to every kind of object, no matter what, his designs ranging from airships to matchboxes. Although it is not widely known, Taro even designed the logo of the now-defunct Kintetsu Buffaloes baseball team. We have named this exhibition ‘The Graphics of Taro Okamoto’ and through it we will provide a general view of Taro’s graphic art. We hope you will enjoy this slightly different aspect of the artist, Taro Okamoto.

‘A Message from Toshiko Okamoto - 2’

January 5, 2006 - April 3, 2006

‘A Message from Toshiko Okamoto - 1’

October 5, 2005 - December 26, 2005

In 1998 this place where Taro and Toshiko Okamoto lived and fought together, was opened to the general public by Toshiko Okamoto as the Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum. While retaining the studio and salon as they were in Taro’s day, 30 exhibitions have been held in the special exhibition gallery over the last seven years.
30 special exhibitions…representing 30 different times that Toshiko has looked at Taro. This exhibition will look back over the 30 special exhibitions that have been held in the Memorial Museum to recapitulate on Toshiko’s concepts and the works that were presented, in order to experience once more Toshiko’s gaze and message.
We hope that you will enjoy the various doorways Toshiko has presented through which we can approach the multifaceted being that was Taro Okamoto.

‘Toshiko Okamoto’s Sixty Years’

July 9, 2005 - October 3, 2005

The former director of this museum, Toshiko Okamoto died on April 20 this year. It was sudden, but fitting end.
‘I ran with Taro Okamoto for fifty years. I never had time to wonder if I was being myself or question the purpose of my life. I lived fully and to the limit. To the extreme.’
True to her word, she ran together with Taro for 50 years, and after that she continued to run for his sake for another 10 years. This exhibition will look back at her life over the last 60 years and serve as a memorial to her.
We will display the messages that were presented to the ‘Talking with Toshiko Okamoto Plaza’ that was held recently in place of a normal funeral. Why not come and meet a smiling Toshiko.

‘Transparent Reality’

April 6, 2005 - July 4, 2005

Not many people know that Taro Okamoto produced such lifelike work. During the fierce battle to survive as avant-garde artist during the postwar years, he did not have the chance to display this side of his character, and he does not appear to have felt any nostalgia for it. However, when he was drinking, he would often draw people’s faces for fun, and the skill he displayed with his pen strokes is astounding. With sharp, delicate lines, he grasped the essence of his subject in an instant, sometimes producing a picture that was more typical of the subject than the actual person; he had an amazingly sharp eye.
A lot of the drawings exhibited here belong to that category. They were not produced for exhibition or to be shown to people. However, he does not skimp at all. Taro Okamoto’s work was basically refined elegant. The gentleness in his gaze as he looked at the sleeping soldier, the feeling of transparency. His intense abstract works are incredible, but I cannot help but wish he had shown us more of this kind of work.

‘Myth of Tomorrow’

January 5, 2005 - April 4, 2005

‘I name the mural I painted for the Hotel de Mexico “Myth of Tomorrow”. It is a picture with burning skeletons in the center. Everybody is moved by it. Not a single person has said that the burning skeletons are ill-omened or that they felt repulsed. It was because it was done in Mexico that I was able to paint a picture like this. It made me realize keenly the depth of the cultural climate of the country.’

‘Melancholy’

October 6, 2004 - December 27, 2004

It is said that you can learn all there is to know about a person from their maiden work. Produced when he was 22 years old, Space can probably be described as being Taro Okamoto’s maiden work and in it we can perceive a condensing of the lyrical melancholy of youth. The first work he created after the war, Melancholy bore the following poem:

My barren heart flutters, Like a banner, a symbol of my grief. From my right temple to my left, One banner after another…

After this work he began boldly challenging society, preaching the principle of polar opposites. There is a strong image of him as being an audacious, intense warrior but underlying this there existed a delicate sorrow, a gentle innocence of character that provides the basic tone of his work. this can be discerned here too.

‘Polar Opposites’

July 7, 2004 - October 4, 2004

There are many people who believe premonitions to be vague, formless emotions. However, Taro Okamoto’s premonitions possessed a clear shape. They were lyrically colored, but the drama they contain is described in a language belonging to a different dimension that has never emerged.
Looking wide-eyed, Taro absorbed this into his body.
The thrill of premonition. Come, feel it for yourself, we want you to take up the challenge with him.

‘Premonition’

April 7, 2004 - July 5, 2004

There are many people who believe premonitions to be vague, formless emotions. However, Taro Okamoto’s premonitions possessed a clear shape. They were lyrically colored, but the drama they contain is described in a language belonging to a different dimension that has never emerged.
Looking wide-eyed, Taro absorbed this into his body.
The thrill of premonition. Come, feel it for yourself, we want you to take up the challenge with him.

Photographic Exhibition: ‘Mysterious’

January 5, 2004 - April 5, 2004

Taro Okamoto’s photographs do not merely capture subjects that can be seen with the eye. They penetrate the true essence of phenomena to the deep origins of existence.
He possessed a shamanistic nature.
He was able to perceive a sense of mystery in common objects that made him shudder.
Masatoshi Naito is a scholar of ethnology, a man of religion who underwent training as a mountain aesthetic and also an accomplished photographer. He was captivated by Taro Okamoto’s photographs and asked to be allowed to print the negatives, locking himself away in the darkroom as he relived the moments that Taro had released the shutter on his camera, forgetting even to eat or sleep.
It is a rare collaboration, an event that will live on in photographic history.

‘Sad Animals’

October 1, 2003 - December 27, 2003

Why do the eyes of animals appear so sad? They are strong but innocent, their sharp eyes the same as Taro Okamoto’s. Sorrowful. Lonely. Yet gallant, noble and full of life. All living things are sad.

‘Couples’

July 2, 2003 - September 29, 2003

Taro Okamoto once said, ‘The world perceived by women differs to that of men’. They both look at the world from completely different viewpoints. It is this difference that attracts them to each other and makes them as one. Laying aside the hermaphrodites of the distant past, all creatures are divided into male and female, becoming diverse, complicated and full of implications.
The world of ‘couples’ portrayed by Taro Okamoto is intense and dramatic. Filled with the tension of challenge. And overflowing with an extreme eroticism.

‘Sketches for Murals 2’

April 2, 2003 - June 30, 2003

Unusually for a Japanese, Taro Okamoto’s spatial sense was extremely highly-developed. Whether he was working on a mural or a monument, the image he possessed was not limited to the work. He would consider the overall impression of the space in which it was to stand. The esquisses he drew were flat, but they served as little more than blueprints. As you look at these, one by one, you should try and imagine the scenery opening up around them; it offers a marvelous chance to test your imagination.

‘Play Writing 2’

January 5, 2003 - March 31, 2003

‘To draw a black line on a sheet of pure white paper. This act contains the fresh vitality of the human life force. Primeval energy is the power emitted by chaos.
Calligraphy provides a joy that differs to that of painting pictures. That is why I often use a writing brush. Characters that could be both writing and painting begin to dance on the paper.
Being pictographs they are sure to have meaning. However, they are not symbols in the conventional sense, with a determined form and accepted meaning. They are a direct coupling of content and shape, giving rise to inspiration through a momentaryimpulse.
The energy that fills the universe and all creation will find fundamental release and be condensed according to the vitality of the line as it is drawn.’