Okamoto Taro (1911-1996) is probably one of the most well-known artists in Japan of the latter half of the 20th century. He created Tower of the Sun for Expo ’70 held in Osaka, made comments full of impact such as “Art is explosion,” and frequently appeared on television. Even after his death in 1996, more and more people, especially the young generation, are showing renewed interest in the artist. In 1998, the studio he worked in during his lifetime was opened to the public as the Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum. Topics concerning Okamoto never cease to attract our attention. In 1999, the Taro Okamoto Museum of Art, Kawasaki opened. Furthermore, in recent years, his monumental mural Tomorrow’s Mythology was rediscovered in Mexico and installed in Shibuya in 2008.
Amidst the posthumous reevaluation of this artist, on the one hand, his positive energy is emphasized. However, on the other hand, the fact that he poignantly said “No” to a variety of existing values and occasionally bewildered the people around him seems to be on the verge of being forgotten. In order to re-appreciate Okamoto, we should not be satisfied simply by taking in his vitality with a passive attitude. Isn’t it necessary to confront the arrows of criticism he shot head-on as arrows aimed at ourselves?
Okamoto Taro’s life was indeed a sequence of “confrontations.” With “confrontation” as the keyword, in this exhibition, the opponents he confronted are divided into seven chapters. Approximately 130 works including paintings, sculptures, photographs, and designs produced through tough struggle are introduced. We hope they will provide an opportunity for us to consider how we should interpret his “confrontations” today.