VOCA 2020 recommended emerging artists in Ueno-Royal Museum


The VOCA 2020—New Artists of Painting (Vision of Contemporary Art) exhibition was held by Ueno-Royal Art Museum in Tokyo. The exhibition period was from March 12 to March 30, 2020.

VOCA 2020 海报.png上野之森美术馆门口 神奈川美术馆馆长水泽勉(左)和参展艺术家江上越(右).png

Director of Kanagawa Modern Museum, Mizusawa Tsutomu and Etsu Egami

VOCA exhibition

VOCA exhibition was founded in 1994, aiming to introduce new and outstanding artists to the world of the future. The exhibition invited senior curators, university professors and critics from Japan's important national art museums to recommend "unique and inevitable works, outstanding artists with an international vision and strong expressive force" under 40 years old.

VOCA exhibition has great influence in the Japanese art field. The recommended artists in 1994, Takashi Murakami, Nara Yoshitomo in 1997, Tomoo Gokita in 2003, are not only leaders in the subsequent Japanese art field, but they also become famous internationally. The academic committee members of VOCA exhibition have always maintained the highest level in the Japanese art field, such as Shuji Takashina, Director of the National Western Art Museum, Kunio Motoe, Curator of the National Modern Art Museum, Sakai, Curator of the Kanagawa Modern Art Museum, etc. Therefore, joining the vision of contemporary art exhibitions in Japan is regarded as the “anding gate” of contemporary art.


Opening in Ueno-Royal Museum in Tokyo

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Artist Etsu Egami spoke at the opening


Aya Imamura’s art work, Flower Painting

Aya Imamura completed the solo exhibition of the project in Shiseido Art Space in 2019. She exhibited "Flower Painting" at VOCA 2020. For Imamura, flowers are the existence of human perception and materials such as beeswax and lacquer are used in her works to give people an impression of the vicissitudes of the time.

安朱米凯尔的作品《sway》和《sacred ritual》.pngAnju Michele’s Sway and Sacred Ritual

Anju Michele who exhibited in Yokohama Triennale 2014 jointly with Ritsue Mishima. In VOCA 2020 he exhibited a series of small paintings. Anju Michele’s work comes from his spiritual sustenance as he has a hearing impairment. His representative Ms. Sumiyoshi talked about his artwork  that, ”his work has a living expression".


Nerhol’s art work Remove

In this VOCA exhibition, Nerhol is the oldest artist that participated. In 2016 there was a solo project for young artists at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa. In VOCA 2020 he exhibited the gravity of the American astronaut in 1969. He exhibited virtual structures of black and white pictures of experiments in his works.

VOCA 2020

The academic committee members for this year's VOCA 2020 exhibition are Ms. Reiko Kokatsu, Director of VOCA, Yuri Mitsuda, Director of DIC Kawamura Art Museum, Hideyuki Yanagisawa, Director of Ohara Art Museum, Tsutomu Mizusawa, Director of Kanagawa Modern Art Museum, and Professor of Tama Art University Tamayo Iemura. The recommended curators are Megumi Hatai, curator of Chiba City  Museum of art, Mr. Fukumoto Takashi, curator of National International art museum, Ms. Lie Tamura and Chinzei Yoshimi, curators of Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Ms. Yumiko Nonaka curator of Kanazawa 21st century art museum, Ms. Chiba Machiko, curator of Toyota City Art Museum, Hiroshi Takeguchi, curator of Hiroshima city Modern Art Museum, and Kodama Kanazawa, curator of Towada city Modern Art Museum…they are 34 important curators of the new generation.

At the VIP opening, many guests came to visit the exhibition, Mr. Shuji Takashina who is the Director of The National Museum of Western Art, Mr. Tsutomu Mizusawa the Director of Modern Museum of Kanagawa, Ms. Kokatsu the Director of VOCA, Ms. Yuri Mitsuda, Chief Curator of  Kawamura DIC Memorial Museum, Mr. Hideyuki Yangisawa Chief Curator of Ohara Museum of Art, Mr. Akira Tatehata, President of Tama Art University, Ms. Tamayo Iemura, Professor of Tama Art University, Ms. Megumi Hatai, curator of CCMA museum, Ms. Rie Tamura, curator of Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Ms. Asami Sakamoto, chief curator.

Ms. Reiko Kokatsu, Director of VOCA spoke at the opening “We are very happy to open VOCA 2020 upon this special occasion. I believe art will be more precious and worthy at the moment.”

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Etsu Egami’s artwork Portrait of Communication

Etsu Egami is the youngest artist in the VOCA exhibition 2020 and the only one that is still a student in Central Academy of Fine Arts including all previous VOCA exhibitions. Thus among the recommended artists this year, Etsu Egami, is deeply concerned.

Etsu Egami is an international artist currently very active in London, Germany, Chicago and Beijing. Based on her overseas experiences, her consistent production activities on the theme of communication have been evaluated internationally. Therefore, she was nominated for the VOCA exhibition at the Ueno Royal Museum with the recommendation of Megumi Hatai, a curator of Chiba City Museum of Art.

Etsu Egami was born in Japan, in 1994. She studied abroad at HfG Karlsruhe (The Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design) in Germany, Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing. Currently, she studies at the Central Academy of Fine Arts for a doctor’s degree. She reconsiders the possibility of communication from her wide experience overseas and studies from various academic fields such as linguistics to sociology, anthropology, and philosophy including the origin of languages. In particular, she devotes herself to a reconsideration of society by words. Her “project” gained international acclaim for the site-specific field survey and documentation. And those factors have deepened the theme of “communication” and been highly praised internationally.

As the youngest artist, she was shortlisted for a sovereign art foundation as an Asian Art Prise 2019 finalist, also as an outstanding Asian artist, her works were collected by the Moscow Garage Museum of Art. Most recently, solo exhibitions such as “Into the light… Etsu Egami solo show” (Germany), “Dialogue beyond 400 years” (London), “This is not a Mis-hearing game” (Beijing), “Dialogue-4,000 years-Etsu Egami Exhibition” (Chiba City Art and Culture Newcomer Award Winning Project) were held. In addition, her graduation works received a prize and were collected by the CAFA Art Museum.

Her supporter is Megumi Hatai, curator of Chiba City Museum of Art, which is one of the important contemporary art museums in Japan. About recommending, Etsu EGAMI, Hatai said,  

“Dauntless yet delicate strokes. Figurative or abstract? Animate or inanimate? Depending on the distance and angle at which this painting is viewed, its appearance, even the impression of the color, changes quite significantly.    

Egami was born and raised in China. She went on to the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing to study oil painting from an East Asian perspective. Motivated by actual experiences of mishearing due to differences in language, she continues to produce works on the theme of cognition through communication. Having portrayed others with a creativity inspired by trivial discord in her everyday life, Egami confronts her own childhood in this work.

There exists a gap we all come up against when confronting someone, be it another person or even ourselves. Egami takes communication as her subject not in an effort to bring one another closer but rather to acknowledge that fundamental distance. Through careful examination of that gap and confirmation of its border, there are also forms that surface of their own accord. Egami’s thinly painted translucent canvases allow us to plunge into the depths of the artist’s never-ending pursuit of communication.”

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This is not a Mis-hearing game 2012-2016  sound installation

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Dialogue beyond 400 years  2018  video installation

Etsu Egami talked about the experience of studying in China, which gave her the greatest inspiration and saw the new possibility for oil painting. What kind of works do you expect Etsu Egami to exhibit in the Ueno-Royal Art Museum? Can we see the new possibilities for Oriental painting? Can a new generation of new artists be born after Takashi Murakami, Nara Yoshitomo? Etsu Egami also said that she was very worried about the epidemic situation and hoped that it would subside as soon as possible and she wants to work together with others to overcome the difficulties.

The painting at the end of the 20th century, as Japanese art critic Shigeo Chiba pointed out, “the situation is that the painting in the 21st century is now placed and is very painful for the painter. The illusionism style of "theme" or the abstract painting that only focuses on the modeling of painting (just like this) is no longer tenable. This is the cruel reality of modern painting. Etsu Egami explores the results of exchange themes in various forms, which gives her the opportunity to talk again of the essence of abstract painting with social reality on a new horizon. Will this process deduce the prospect of 'post painting' proposed by Shigeo Chiba? It's worth looking forward to!”


Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum Curator Tamura Yurie, Director of VOCA Kokatsu Reiko and Etsu Egami


Director of Tama Art Museum and Yayoi Kusama Museum Tatehata Akira and Etsu Egami


Ueno-Royal Museum上野之森美术馆门口 VOCA展2020海报.png

VOCA2020  perspective of Contemporary Art —New Painters

Text and Image Courtesy of Etsu Egami