The JaPigozzi Collection is a unique collection focusing on the young Japanese art scene. The Collection was begun by Jean Pigozzi in 2008. It includes over 3000 artworks – in a variety of media and disciplines – by around 250 artists, thus presenting an extensive overview of an entire generation of Japanese artists born between the mid 1970s and early 1990s. The majority of these figures have completed the rigorous and traditional training offered by art academies in Japan. Examples of some important artists included in the collection are Nobuyoshi Araki (b. 1940), Keiichi Tanaami (b. 1936), Akira Ikezoe (b. 1979), Kohei Nawa (b. 1975), Sohei Nishino (b. 1982), Mika Ninagawa (b. 1972), and Tomoko Sawada (b. 1977).
Many of the artists use detailed techniques, creating tension when it depicts imagery that is sometimes disturbing, fetishist or pseudo-naïve. However, these themes are alleviated by humour, playfulness and beauty. Many of the works have a strong and detailed sense of narrative. Story-telling becomes fractured by tools such as irregular perspective, abstract passages or multi-layered vignettes. Surrealism and Absurdism are central features in many of the works, introducing emotional or cerebral undertones. Indeed, the conceptual structure of the works leaves nothing to chance, despite the seemingly ambiguous first impressions.
Prior to his interest in Japanese art, Pigozzi founded in 1989 the Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC), which is now the largest private collection of Contemporary African Art in the world.
Collection Highlights Include:
- Sohei Nishino
- Keiichi Tanaami
- Kohei Nawa
- Mika Ninagawa
- Tomoko Sawada
- Nobuyoshi Araki
(b. 1936 in Kyobashi, Japan) lives and works in Tokyo and is a chairperson of the Faculty of Information Design at Kyoto University of Art and Design, where he has also been a Professor since 1991.
Tanaami graduated in Graphic Design at Musashino Art University in 1960, and he shortly started a very successful career in design and advertising, initially illustrating the covers for the Japanese versions of the records by international bands. Tanaami travelled to New York in the late 1960s, where he discovered Andy Warhol’s work and his analogous approach towards mixing art and advertising. He later started experimenting also with video and animation.
In Tanaami’s art, the reminiscence of the chaos and violence of war – which he witnessed as a child – merges with elements drawn directly from popular culture. During his childhood, the artist was obsessed with films, and used to go to the cinema on a daily basis; he was particularly interested in movies showing monsters and glamorous actresses, images that recur also in his art. The conjunction of these aspects blurs the line between fiction and reality in Tanaami’s works, characterised by an extraordinary palette, pop aesthetic, dark undertones and metamorphic figures. His extremely original compositions had a lasting impact on emerging Japanese artists of the following generations.
Tanaami’s works were included in major solo and group exhibitions in international art institutions, such as Kawasaki City Museum, Kanagawa, Japan; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, US; Center Pompidou-Metz, Metz, France; Palazzo Delle Esposizioni, Roma, Italy; National Center for Contemporary Arts, Moscow, Russia; Tate Modern, London, UK; and many others.
(b. 1940 in Tokyo, Japan) studied Photography and Filmmaking at Chiba University, Japan. After his graduation, he started working as a commercial photographer for Dentsu advertising agency, and had his first solo show in 1966. Shortly after, he decided to dedicate himself completely to fine art photography.
Araki is considered one of the most prominent photographers both in Japan and abroad, and has been largely influential over the following generations of artists. In his work, we see motifs from the traditional Japanese erotic Shunga prints reinterpreted into contemporary domestic spaces, with resulting compositions that are both provocative and intimate. Beside the more explicit photographs, other recurring elements in Araki’s production are the very spontaneous pictures depicting his daily life, the details of his surroundings, and the city he lives in – Tokyo. These series seem part of a private journal.
Araki’s works are included in major public collections, such as Tate Modern, London, UK; Fotomuseum Winterthur, Winterthur, Switzerland; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, US; and more. He received many awards during his career, for instance, the 1994 Japan Inter-Design Forum Grand Prix, the 1990 Society of Photography Award, and the 1964 Sun Prize. Araki was dedicated an extraordinary number of solo exhibitions during the past four decades. In the latest years, solo shows were hosted at FOAM Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA; Palais Fontana dei Trevi, Rome, Italy; Barbican Centre, London, UK; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan; P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, USA; The Photographers’ Gallery, London, UK; and many others.
(b. 1975 in Kyoto, Japan) is based in Kyoto, where he directs SANDWICH, a creative platform for production established in 2009. He holds a PhD in Fine Art Sculpture from Kyoto City University of Arts, and during the past 20 years he has also been the recipient of many awards, such as the Pen Creator Award in 2018 (Tokyo, Japan), the Kyoto Prefecture Cultural Award in 2017 for Distinguished Service (Kyoto, Japan), and the First Prize at the 14th Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh in 2010 (Dhaka, Bangladesh).
Nawa is a multidisciplinary artist who is best known for his sculpture. He represents animals and objects covered in tiny glass spheres, which fragment and disintegrate the subject’s original form. These sculptures are designed digitally before they are produced in reality. Nawa coined his own term for this technique, PixCell, the union of the words pixel and cell, which suggests a hybrid of biological and technological elements.
Nawa’s works are part of prestigious public art collections, which include: Hara Museum, Tokyo, Japan; Long Museum, Shanghai, China; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan; Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; The Art Foundation, Kentucky, USA; Grand Hyatt at SFO, San Francisco, USA. Among the others, he had solo shows in 2019 at PACE Gallery Hong Kong, Hong Kong; 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan; in 2018 at Louvre Museum, Paris, France; Museum of Hunting and Nature, Paris, France; in 2015 at Pace Gallery London, London, UK.
Tatsuya Matsushita (b. 1982 in Aichi, Japan) graduated from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Tokyo, Japan, in 2006. The following year he was awarded at the Tokyo Video Festival.
Matsushita is mainly known for his works made in mixed media and collage. His compositions are chaotic accumulations of objects and consumer goods: cameras, television screens, mobile phones, stereo systems in all shapes and dimensions. Similarly to advertising, where the images come from, these objects are surrounded by very bright colours, and are deeply connected to the exponential expansion of mass culture in Japan during the past 60 years.
Initially influenced by the United States after World War II, Japanese consumerist culture had its own peculiar development; it absorbed external elements and merged them with aspects from more traditional trends, proper of the country, in a unique way. Here, mass culture has a specific attention towards different forms of entertainment that have originated wthin the Japanese boundaries: music (with its own record market), karaoke, films, manga and anime (comics and animation) are just some of the elements that are widely popular in the Japanese contemporary culture. Interestingly, technology has a crucial role in these trends: all these elements necessarily need their own technological objects to be consumed by the users, creating a situation in which the user’s daily life is almost overwhelmed by the presence of different devices. This is what Matsushita seems to suggest in his compositions, depicting a dystopic, alternative dimension where the space is completely occupied by these objects.
Matsushita had solo shows at TMproject Gallery, Geneva, Switzerland; Terra Tokyo Gallery, Japan. His works were included in La Maison Franco-Japonaise, Tokyo, Japan; Yada Gallery, Aichi, Japan; Magasin-Cnac, Grenoble, France; Garage Center of Contemporary Culture, Moscow; Palazzo Reale, Milan, Italy.
(b. 1982 in Hyogo, Japan) graduated from Osaka University of the Arts in 2004 and currently lives and works between Kanagawa and Shizuoka, Japan.
Nishino is an acclaimed figure in contemporary Japanese photography, and came to prominence with his Diorama series, which are inspired by the 18th-century Japanese cartographic production. These works by Nishino have a very distinguishable characteristic: rather than being composed of just one photograph, the Diorama Maps are combinations of several bird’s eye views of cities. These multiple pictures of a metropolis become accumulations which depict the impressive expansion of the chosen cities. The resulting images are gigantic and complex compositions, where our gaze gets lost in the attempt to register individual details, and which recreate a sense of loss of the individual in an overwhelming urban landscape.
Nishino has exhibited his work internationally and obtained numerous prizes, including the President Award, Osaka University of Arts in 2004, the Young Eye Japanese Photographer Association Award in 2005, the Canon Excellence Award in 2005. He has also participated in several group and solo shows: ICP Triennieal, New Yok, USA; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Japan; Saatchi Gallery, London, UK; Unseen, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Daegu photo Biennale, Daegu, Korea.
(b. 1972 in Tokyo, Japan) holds a degree from Tama Art University, Tokyo, the city where she lives and works. Ninagawa was one of the first female photographers of her generation to garner mainstream attention in Japan. This was a group of artists who rose to prominence in the country in the 1990s and were commonly labelled by the critics Onnanoko no Shashin (‘Young Women’s Photography’). These photographers were directly inspired by Nobuyoshi Araki’s photographic journals, and their works showcase direct and spontaneous images of empowered women. In doing so, they also shed light on their own private life.
From the 1990s, Ninagawa in particular started using a colourful, pop aesthetic in her images. She first began utilising photography as the main medium to document details of her daily life. The subjects range from self-portraiture, to still-lifes, to animals and landscapes. Images of women recur in these works, both in her self-portraits as well as in portraits of other models. These photographs are among her most thought-provoking pieces, and are often very confrontational, depicting the artist as an empowered woman with rebellious, styled ‘looks’.
The artist has always been very active and her works have been exhibited in art spaces in and outside her country. To name a few, Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, Japan; MOCA Taipei, Taipei, Taiwan; Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan; Helene Nyborg, Valby, Denmark; Wouter van Leeuwen, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She received many awards during her career, such as the Ohara Museum of Art Award, Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo, in 2006.
(b. 1977 in Kobe, Japan) graduated at Seian University of Art and Design in Otsu, Japan. Sawada was the recipient of many awards in the past years, such as the 14th Kobe Nagata Culture Prize Award in 2019, The Higashikawa prize in 2008, The Twentieth Annual ICP Infinity in 2004.
Sawada is considered to be part of the Onnanoko no Shashin (Young Women’s Photography) movement alongside other artists such as Mika Ninagawa. Sawada’s photographic production differs from the others for being more focused on exploring the female identity. In particular, she inspects the discrepancy between one’s inner self and her outer appearance. The artist uses the juxtaposition of multiple photographs of her own image to represent the clichés surrounding Japanese women, alternating ironic and serious approaches. Her works are composed of long series of self-portraits in which she wears different wigs, clothes and make-up to imitate a variety of stereotypical female characters as seen by Japanese society and popular culture: a sweet and romantic young girl; a confident woman in a smart work attire; a nostalgic lady wearing a traditional kimono, are just some examples of the gender roles surrounding these women.
Tomoko Sawada has been included in important exhibitions hosted by ICP International Center of Photography, New York, USA; Tate Modern, London, UK; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA; Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, tokyo, Japan; and many others. Sawada’s works have entered some of the most important public art collections, such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, USA; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, USA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA; Getty Museum, Los Angeles, USA; Maison Europeenne de la Photographie, Paris, France; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC, USA; The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan.