Variation and Autonomy: The Prints of Contemporary Japanese Painters

Experience the work from a group of Japanese artists who redefined the idea of modern art.
Emma Clark-Dow
February 27, 2024


A new exhibition is landing on Auckland's shores, visiting Tāmaki Makaurau all the way from Japan. From Thursday, February 29–Thursday, March 28, Variation and Autonomy: The Prints of Contemporary Japanese Painters will be on display at Studio One Toi Tū in Auckland's Grey Lynn showcasing a collection of prints from the 1970s produced by 10 Japanese artists.

During that particular time period, the practice of printmaking was unusual, with the featured group of Japanese artists changing the idea of what art could be. The concept was born out of sōsaku-hanga, — otherwise known as woodblock printing — which was a popular technique used in the early 20th century throughout Japan.

Two of the artists featured in the exhibition are Masanari Murai and Toshinobu Onosato, artists whose work pushed the boundaries of contemporary art practice 30 years ago. Murai began his artistic career by producing abstract pieces, before embracing printmaking in the 1950s. Onosato's work first focused on shapes, specifically circles before also making the switch. The pair were monumental in the art of peintre-graveur (painter-engraver), a concept seen throughout the exhibition.

The showcase also features work from Yayoi Kusama — otherwise known as the highest-selling living female artist, generating hundreds of millions of dollars from her signature style of bright coloured polka-dots and optical illusions.

One such illusion is Kusama's Infinity Mirror Rooms, where Kusama creates a never-ending image of her work. As part of the exhibition, on Saturday March 16 a screening will be held of Kusama: Infinity, a documentary of both the artist's life and the process of her creating her famous infinity mirrors.

This is a not-to-be-missed exhibition for lovers of modern art.


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