top コラムExhibition ReportVol.26 Leap Before You Look: Contemporary Japanese Photography vol. 20 「日本の新進作家展vol.20 見るまえに跳べ」

Exhibition Report

Vol.26 Leap Before You Look: Contemporary Japanese Photography vol. 20
「日本の新進作家展vol.20 見るまえに跳べ」

John Sypal

Bringing together the work of five photographers, the 2023 entry of TOP Museum's Contemporary Japanese Photography series enjoys the clever subtitle "Leap Before you Look".  


The curator’s greeting lists a litany of events which have created upheaval in the 21st century- calamities portending an ever-uncertain future darkened by clouds of anxiety, confusion, and loneliness. It adds that the artists chosen for this year create work that suggest to us different paths with which to go- or leap- forward. 


Two photographers, Haruto Hoshi and Yuta Fuchikami focus on serendipitous encounters with individuals. Shimpei Yamagami finds the mystical in details of the real world. Artist Yumiko Utsu on the other hand draws inward, into a realm of surrealist play. The fifth contributor is the Chinese artist Mumuko who’s large, impressive-looking video installation I must admit I did not have time to watch. 


  •  “Even when shrouded in solitude, their work seeks out connection with others, helps us to break loose from stubbornness and reminds us of the things that enrich our lives.
TOP Museum


I won’t argue with that. 

But rather than viewer impact, my impression of the relationship between the title and work exhibited was concerned with how these artists apply their process to the world they live in. 


The two artists here I am most familiar with- Fuchikami and Hoshi- exemplify a classical approach of to the medium: they head out into the city with their same, simple camera in hand and open eyes. The “leap” they take before looking is a trust that the city will, provide them with material- a cast and individuals- with which to discover something about not only the world but their place in it. 

The people that they are drawn to are on the fringes of society but in either man’s photographs will one find a sense of exploitation- or pity. They both approach their subjects with a particular sense of respect and maybe even self-identification. 


Rather than venturing out into the world artist Yumiko Utsu combines toys, food, 2D pictures, googly eyes, real cats and dead bugs into a bright, bizarre menagerie. 

Her colorful and often luridly loud images are the result of an interesting mix of humor matched with just enough squeamish grotesqueness to push them beyond the simple potential Instagram fodder that they first appear to be. They’re slick and produced well- her style would transfer well to ad campaigns or fashion magazines.  Her images aren’t the kind of stuff I normally like, but I did catch myself grinning at quite a few of them.  They’re easy to quickly “get”, and their directness and meme-able vigor- not to mention sheer quantity- set the work firmly in the early 2020s.

Indeed, while her digital images had an impact as huge prints on the walls they’d come across just as well (or at home) on your iPhone.  


While they are the product of intention they possess strong evidence of play- a playfulness that is at times mischievous but always surreal.  

Utsu’s creations- glossy, a little weird, and non-political- can work as (at least momentary) antidotes to the societal troubles that the curators mentioned in their greeting. 


I left the gallery pleased and definitely recommend visiting this show. 

Hopefully the work that appears here nudges viewers out of their own mental ruts and encourages a leap of faith that finding- or making- your own world is not just possible, but worthwhile. 


淵上裕太 Yuta Fuchikami







夢無子 mumuko




山上新平 Shimpei Yamagami


  • 孤独の中にありながらも、人とのつながりを手繰り寄せようとする彼らの作品は、私たちのかたくなな心を溶かし、人生の豊かさとは何かを思い出させてくれることでしょう。






淵上裕太 Yuta Fuchikami




星 玄人 Haruto Hoshi




彼女のカラフルで、しばしば薄気味悪いほどに派手な画像は、ユーモアと潔癖なグロテスクさが興味深くミックスされた結果です。洗練された彼女のスタイルは、広告キャンペーンやファッション誌にも十分通用するでしょう。 彼女の写真は普段私が好むようなものではないのですが、かなりの数を見てニヤニヤしてしまいました。 すぐに“理解”できるダイレクトさとミーム的な勢いは、量の多さもさることながら2020年代という時代をしっかりと据えています。彼女のデジタル画像は壁に貼られた巨大なプリントとしてインパクトがありましたが、スクリーン越しでも映える気がします。


うつゆみこ Yumiko Utsu




うつゆみこ Yumiko Utsu






  • 出品作家|Artists 
    うつゆみこ|Yumiko Utsu[1978-]
    淵上裕太|Yuta Fuchikami[1987-]
    星玄人| Haruto Hoshi[1970-]
    山上新平|Shimpei Yamagami[1984-]
  • "Leap Before You Look" Contemporary Japanese Photography vol. 20
  • Oct. 27, 2023—Jan. 21, 2024
  • 日本の新進作家展vol.20 「見るまえに跳べ」
  • 東京都写真美術館
  • 2023年10月27日〜2024年1月21日


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