Osaka Brand Committee
Outenin Temple
Outenin Temple
digmeout (Dig-Me-Out) Installment 1
Avant-Garde x Entertaining x Open-Air Theater → Ishinha
Etching x Pastel → Sumako Yasui
Artist x Craftsperson → Yoko Matsumoto
Jokes x Art → Gendai Bijutsu Nitouhei
Sculpture x Flexibility → Kohei Nawa
Installations x Images → Chie Matsui
World Exhibition (Banpaku) x Future Ruins → Kenji Yanobe
Drive x Noise → Rogue’s Gallery
Self-Portrait x Art History → Yasumasa Morimura
 Listen (= Sound) x View (= Art) → Yukio Fujimoto
Yodogawa x Trash x Art→Yodogawa Technique
Biolgical field
Water city
Osaka Kaleidoscope
Self-Portrait x Art History → Yasumasa Morimura

  Born and raised in Tsuruhashi, Osaka, Yasumasa Morimura is a true Naniwa native and is one of the artists that represent today’s creative world in Japan. Although his unique art style does not fit any conventional   genres, such as paintings or carvings, the global acceptance of his distinctive artwork simply explains how intriguing and profound the world of art is.
Morimura’s name first came to be known in 1985 when he produced a piece of work that featured himself in a famous self-portrait painting of Van Gogh. Based on his extensive research, Morimura reproduced clothing, background, expression, and other elements found in the original, disguised himself as the painter, and took a photograph of his creation to present it as a new artistic version of his original. Some of you may think such an art style is nothing but copying, and it is an undeniable fact that his work is an imitation of the masterpieces. However, Morimura always finds some gaps that exist between the original and his seemingly perfect imitation. While he continues his study of masterpieces as an artist, he also occasionally comes across a new discovery, which experts have not even noticed before. By filling those gaps with his own thoughts, modern values, and newly-discovered perspectives, Morimura successfully yields a unique and independent artistic expression that holds a new brilliance. Morimura has pursued his creations based on a number of historic masterworks, has participated in many notable exhibitions both in and outside Japan, and has gained recognition as one of Japan’s most successful artists. His creative activities extend over a wide range of areas, which include a self-portrait series of film actresses, a collaboration work of art and fashion with designer Issey Miyake, acting for movies and theaters, and writing books, just to name a few.

“Portrait,Gogh” 1985,
Color photograph, the National Museum of Art, Osaka
“The Third Mona Lisa” 1998, Color photograph print on canvas, artist’s personal collection

“An Inner Dialogue With Frida Kahlo” 2001, Color photograph, artist’s personal collection

“Expression Study III” 1994, Black and white photograph, Hara Museum

“Vermeer Study (positions of the three)” 2005, Color photograph, the National Museum of Art, Osaka

“Seasons of Passion / A Requiem: Mishima” 2006, Video installation

※All of the above works are presented at his exhibition, “Bi-Class, Be Quiet” at Yokohama Museum of Art

His latest work, “Seasons of Passion / A Requiem: Mishima,” is a new attempt by Morimura to lead himself into a new area of creation. This visual installation has been presented at his solo exhibition in Venice (as a related project of La Biennale di Venezia) and at another exhibition at Yokohama Museum of Art. In the video, he disguises himself as Yukio Mishima, Lenin, and Hitler (as a dual image with Charlie Chaplin from “The Great Dictator”) and delivers his own message in the recreated historic scenes originally made by these figures. For example, in the reproduction of Mishima’s famous speech made prior to his suicide at JGSDF (Japan Ground Self Defense Force) Camp Ichigaya, Morimura makes some sharp assertions regarding today’s situation of art and artists of the younger generation. While summarizing his view on the 20th century, Morimura also makes a large-scale endeavor to establish certain guidelines regarding the confused future direction of the 21st century. Although this propaganda-style type of work, which contains much stronger messages than usual, may fire up some disputes, it should be highly appraised that Morimura is courageously making a step further forward while risking his established career as an artist. Our expectations continue to increase as we anxiously wait for the next presentation of his future visions.

Lastly, on just a personal note, while we all know that Morimura adores his hometown Osaka, it is a shame that he has not held an exhibition locally for quite a long time. I sincerely ask art museums in Osaka and those who are concerned to consider bringing him back again soon to our community.

September 11, 2007
Text by Takafumi Kobuki, a freelance art writer

Exhibition information

Yasumasa Morimura: “Bi-Class, Be Quiet”
Now - Sep. 17 (Mon./public holiday)  10:00 - 18:00 (open until 20:00 on Friday)
Closed on Thursday
Admission until 30 minutes before closing
General public: 1,100 yen, College and High school students: 700 yen, Jr. high school students: 400 yen, Free for Elementary school students and under
Yokohama Museum of Art
3-4-1 Minatomirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama-shi, Tokyo
TEL: 045-221-0300
URL: (Japanese only)

Author Profile

Takafumi Kobuki
Worked as an editor for an information magazine and became a freelancer in 2005. Writes art-related articles for Kyoto Shimbun, Bijutsu Techo, Pia Kansai, ELLE, artscape (online) and more.
Personal website: “Katte-ni RECOMMEND”
Personal blog: “Takafumi Kobuki: Art-no Kobujime”