Ueno Artist Project 2023: Picturing and Touching the Lives of Others — Fungi, Plants, Animals and Humans

November 16 (Thu), 2023 – January 8 (Mon-holiday), 2024

This exhibition features six artists who have devoted themselves to “picturing and touching” living beings existing in nature other than humans.
Plants and animals are enormously popular motifs for creative and expressive activities. This time, however, we examine artists who form inseparable relationships with a particular variety of living being, whom they observe and depict for decades with unwavering passion.
A fascination with wild mushrooms, sparked by a coincidental encounter, has led KOBAYASHI Michiko to seek them out and record them in diverse habitats. TSUJI Hisashi, loving wildflowers in his youth, painted and recorded them untiringly in private life while active on the Japanese art scene in the first half of the 20th century. UCHIYAMA Haruo, using the skills he mastered as a wood inlay craftsman, pioneered the bird-carving world in Japan.
After bursting on the postwar scene with a poetic, experimental style, photographer IMAI Hisae devoted the remainder of her life to photographing thoroughbreds. TOMITA Miho, charmed by the pasture cows she encountered as a university student, has since created wood-block prints of cows while working with them on a dairy farm. ABE Chisato, traveling the world in search of gorillas in zoos and in the wild, has established emotional bonds with them while painting and recorded them.
In each case, what has seized the artist’s eye in his or her keen pursuit of a single subject in order to photograph, paint, or model it? This exhibition looks at the varying forms of interaction with other lives that unfold within the artists’ endeavor to “picture and touch” them and ponders our future as humans living together with other living beings.
To enable people who are blind or have low vision to enjoy the exhibition, we include touch tools and artworks that can be experienced through handling.

※ The “Ueno Artist Project” exhibition series showcases artists active in Public Entry Exhibitions (Koboten), under a particular theme each time. It has been held annually since 2017 in order to continue and build on the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum's history as “the home of the Public Entry Exhibition.”

  1. 1. What decades of observation yielded to the artists’ eyes
    Discover, through artworks, what artists actually saw in decades spent pursuing a single species of living being. Visitors will encounter art whose vital charm is only attainable through intense devotion to a particular motif.
  2. 2. Picturing and touching—and recording other lives
    The exhibited pieces are no less than artworks born of the artists’ passion for observing and realistically depicting their subject. Yet, they also have academic significance as records of individual creatures’ lives. An opportunity to see plants and animals as they are in their natural habitats from the perspective of natural science.
  3. 3. Artwork appreciation through the sense of touch
    “Touch tools” will be featured among the exhibits. They include some 40 “touch carving” bird sculptures that UCHIYAMA Haruo has developed for people who are blind or have low vision. Anyone with or without a disability can enjoy artworks using their sense of touch.


Major works

Major works
  • KOBAYASHI Michiko, Boletus Family, Collection of the artist

  • TSUJI Hisashi, Canterbury bells, Mito City Museum

  • UCHIYAMA Haruo, Short-tailed albatross, Collection of the artist

  • IMAI Hisae, OGURI CAP, Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts

  • TOMITA Miho, 701 Full body figure, Collection of the artist

  • ABE Chisato, Snowflake, Collection of the artist




November 16 (Thu), 2023 – January 8 (Mon-holiday), 2024
Gallery A, C
November 20, December 4, 18, 21 – January 3, 2024
9:30 – 17:30 (Last admission 17:00), November 17, 24, December 1, 8  9:30 – 20:00 (Last admission 19:30)

General ¥500 / Seniors 65+ ¥300

  • ※Admission free for visitors College students and High school students or younger.
  • ※Admission free for visitors (and one accompanying person) with a Physical Disability Certificate, Intellectual Disability Certificate, Rehabilitation Certificate, Mental Disability Certificate or Atomic Bomb Survivor’s Certificate.
  • ※In each case, please show identification.
Organized by
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum operated by Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture


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