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Exhibitions - 09.18.2021 - 11.28.2021

WAVE | New Currents in Japanese Graphic Arts

WAVE - New Currents in Japanese Graphic Arts, September 18 - November 28, 2021  

09.18.2021 (Sat.) ― 11.28.2021 (Sun.)


11:00 AM ― 06:00 PM


JAPAN HOUSE Gallery, Level 2



Graphic art and illustration have a long history in Japan and are vibrant forces in Japanese culture today. Although many Japanese post-war illustrators and graphic artists were influenced by Western art and media, today’s artists draw from many different sources. The exhibition WAVE presents the rich and varied work of 55 Japanese contemporary artists, showing how their creations in books, magazines, comics, animation, posters and other media extend far beyond the well-known manga and anime styles and represent a diverse and expressive art scene little known outside Japan.

WAVE is curated by artists Kintaro Takahashi and Hiro Sugiyama (also featured in the exhibition) and is based on the popular annual art exhibition WAVE, which has been held at Arts Chiyoda in Tokyo since 2018 and each year showcases works by over 100 of Japan’s leading illustrators, graphic and contemporary artists. This JAPAN HOUSE Touring Exhibition begins at JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles and brings the artworks of many of these artists to an international audience for the first time.

The exhibition introduces work by artists ranging from veteran professional illustrators such as Teruhiko Yumura (b.1942), Akira Uno (b.1934) and Keiichi Tanaami (b.1936) to young artists like Masanori Ushiki (b.1981) and Mayu Yukishita (b.1995), many of whom bridge the worlds of illustration, animation, commercial art and fine art.

Styles of the drawings, paintings and prints vary widely, from Tanaami’s vibrant, detailed fantasies, Ayako Ishiguro’s (b.1973) characters inspired by Japanese folklore and Hiroshi Nagai’s (b.1947) bright summer landscapes to Yukishita’s dark realism and the haunting portraits of Masaru Shichinohe (b.1959).

Some of the most influential styles featured in the exhibition are: 


X Planet Battles by Motohiro Hayakawa

X Planet Battles, Motohiro Hayakawa, 2021

Japanese comic book, or manga, illustration has deep roots in 12th-century painted picture scrolls, pre-modern woodblocks prints and books, and early 20th-century magazines. After World War II, influenced by American comic books and cartoons, a modern manga style evolved with visual conventions that continue today in Japanese comic books and in Japanese animation, or anime. The popular manga/anime style features strong lines, expressive dialogue bubbles, unique frames and abstract background mood effects. Characters are given large eyes, small mouths and emotional detailing, like sweat drops for anxiety, popping veins for anger and bold parallel lines for horror or disgust. In this exhibition, artists working in this style include Kenichiro Mizuno, Katsuya Terada and Motohiro Hayakawa. 


Work by Teruhiko Yumura

Untitled (Mr. George), Teruhiko Yumura, 2021

In the 1970s, an underground manga movement began with the magazine Garo, in which artists created illustrations that intentionally looked poorly drawn compared to the slick look of mainstream manga. Known as heta-uma (“poorly drawn but well-conceived”), the style was pioneered and embraced by Teruhiko Yumura, Yoshikazu Ebisu and Takashi Nemoto and has validated the work of many of today’s young manga and graphic artists, whose works seem unpolished but are very emotionally expressive. In this exhibition, although his style is highly polished, artist Suzy Amakane embraces the spirit of heta-uma.

Pop Art

Shonen Tiger 01 by Keiichi Tanaami

Shonen Tiger 01, Keiichi Tanaami, 2008

The Pop Art Movement that emerged in the 1950s in the U.S. and U.K. reached Japan soon afterwards. Andy Warhol’s ability to bridge the commercial and fine art worlds inspired Keiichi Tanaami (b.1936), whose bold, dynamic designs are packed full of dreamlike figures, popular motifs and powerful characters. Similarly, the fantastic battles scenes of Motohiro Hayakawa (b.1974) evoke the psychedelic pop art of the 1960s and 70s. Harumi Yamaguchi’s glossy images of strong, liberated women graced Japanese ad campaigns in the 1970s and 1980s, while Hiroshi Nagai’s vivid poolside scenes became iconic images, appearing on record album covers in the 1980s.


Work by Mayu Yukishita

Untitled, Mayu Yukishita, 2020

The Photorealism movement evolved in U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s from Pop Art, largely in response to abstract expressionism and the abundance of photography. It also inspired Japanese artists including Hajime Sorayama (b.1947), who has depicted female robots and mechanical dinosaurs with luminous detail, and Yoko Kawamoto (b.1967), who elevates junk piles and quarries into hyper-realistic landscapes. More recently, Mayu Yukishita recreates a darker reality in her “super-real” paintings.


JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles is pleased to share all the artworks featured in our gallery online.

View All Artworks

Meet the Artists

Jenny Kaori - WAVE Exhibition | Meet the 55 Artists  

Gallery Photos


*To view the flipbook in full screen, please click on the "Fullscreen" icon on the lower right-hand corner from the window above.

Exhibition-Related Programs

yosuitei interior
The Here, There, and Everywhere Flower, Hiroki Taniguchi, 2020

WAVE exhibition-related programs are scheduled for the coming months. Subscribe to receive future JAPAN HOUSE LA Newsletters, visit the Events Page and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more information.​

Exhibition Credits

Presented by | JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles

Exhibition Planning | Hiro Sugiyama and Kintaro Takahashi

Graphic Design | Mayu Yoshida (Enlightenment)

Exhibition support provided by | LINTEC Corporation, LINTEC SIGN SYSTEM, INC., Printec Corporation, SABIA INC., MURAYAMA INC.

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