Ashmolean Museum Oxford
Its subject may be Tokyo, but this show is ultimately a superbly various survey of Japanese graphic art – and most particularly of the incomparable Hiroshige
A vision of cherry blossom, pink and white against blazing cobalt skies, runs floor to ceiling all through the entrance corridor to this show. The sight dazzles and bewilders, releasing afterimages that dance around the viewer with every step. The effect is hyperreal – and conspicuously achieved through digital photography – yet the experience feels both entirely timeless and completely Japanese. You could be walking through the blossom to some ancient Shinto temple.
Mika Ninagawa (born 1972) is one of Tokyo’s most popular photographers. Her neon-bright blossoms appear on bullet trains and billboards. They are as recognisable as the real flowers but as traditional, in their 21st-century way, as the prints of Japanese artists running back through the centuries. All are displayed together in this captivating survey of Japanese art – watercolours and painted scrolls, photographs, lithos and woodcuts – with Tokyo at its heart. And every image is a graphic evocation of some stupendous scene that invites the eye to enter in and wander like some spellbound tourist.