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
#9 Jokes x Art → Gendai Bijutsu Nitouhei

Fujiwara (left) and Kagotani (right)
of Gendai Bijutsu Nitouhei

Gendai Bijutsu Nitouhei, as this peculiar name ("entry-level soldiers of contemporary art") may suggest, is an art unit known for their unique, not-so-typical artwork. "Tebasaki Angel" (a statue of an angel with de-feathered wings), "Daruma the Dropout" (a daruma doll that has quit his training and wears his hair in a punch-perm, the symbolic hairstyle of gangsters), and "I'm stuck..." (a statue of Venus de Milo cramped in a narrow box) are just a few of their rather strange productions. In fact, they do not hesitate to call their artwork a joke. As if they are trying to compete with authentic and sophisticated art, the two continue to deepen the world of their unique art style by making up word-play jokes that are bound to  make you feel a little foolish.

"Dabijutsu Gallery"
Magazine House, Published on November 29, 2007,
1,260 yen (tax included)

Gendai Bijutsu Nitouhei is an art duo which used to be formed by three close friends at art college: Shane Kagotani and Katsuhito Fujiwara (Ryuji Hamada was also a member until 1998). At school, they were always found hanging out together and doing things together. As students studying sculpture, they were both originally quite loyal to traditional art styles, probably because of the special preparatory education that they received in order to pass the entrance exam for art college. Their professors absolutely refused such textbook-style productions and continuously required them to seek and find their own unique creative ways through trial and error. During their school years, they were not active as artists and did nothing major. They just held a small exhibition  at the school's gallery after they found post-college employment. It was Fujiwara who, following graduation, inspired the others to make a group presentation together at a rental gallery; his suggestion was that they could officially become artists simply by sharing the rent for the gallery and presenting their work in whatever way they wanted. In 1992, the three, without an official group name, had their first exhibition together. During their third exhibition in 1994, the group decided to use the exhibition's title, "Gendai Bijutsu Nitouhei," as their official name.

When working on production, the two follow their own rules they have established: rather than making a piece together, each of them makes a piece individually and then they bring the two parts together. The piece can be made in any form of expression, such as sculpture, painting, or photograph. And most importantly, the piece has to be fun and funny. "We want to enjoy helplessness," says Kagotani. "We find it really exciting when we can create something so silly that no one else could copy it." His words clearly explain where this pair of artists stands in relation to their creations.

Currently, Kagotani works as a designer for a major printing company, while Fujiwara plans, produces, and designs products for a toy company. Their activities as an art team are not the way they make a living, and this is probably the reason why they have been able to maintain their characteristic, relaxed art style. What makes this pair attractive is that they know how to play seriously in a mature way. Last November, the two published their first book which features a collection of their past works. While their name is becoming more recognized today, Kagotani and Fujiwara are willing to expand their activities and challenge new areas, such as "creations from the perspective of commercial products (Kagotani)." This summer, the pair plans to hold a major personal exhibition in Osaka, their hometown. For me, it is certain that they will become the next major hit in the world of contemporary art in Japan.

"Daruma the Dropout"

"Tebasaki Angel"

"Hold Me Please"

"I'm Stuck..."


April 26, 2007
Text by Takafumi Kobuki, a freelance art writer

Gendai Bijutsu Nitouhei Profile

Shane Kagotani and Katsuhito Fujiwara, both from Osaka, began working together as artists in 1992 when they had their first exhibition, "Okura Show" (CUBIC Gallery ITEZA)" in Kyoto. Since then, the two have participated in various group and personal exhibitions mainly in Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe, as well as in Tokyo. In 2004, their production "GEISAI #6" received the Special Judges Award (Fantastic Plastic Machine Tomoyuki Tanaka Award) and the Scout Judges Award (ROCKET Award). In 2007, their first book featuring a collection of their work, "Dabijutsu Gallery," was published.

Gendai Bijutsu Nitouhei official website (only available in Japanese)

Exhibition Information

Late August - Early September, 2008: Exhibition at HEP HALL (Umeda, Osaka)
November, 2008: Exhibition of new productions at Voice Gallery pfs/w (Kyoto)

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”