skip to Main Content

Storymakers in Contemporary Japanese Art


July 29, 2022 – January 28, 2023

Storymakers in Contemporary Japanese Art dives into a world of fantasy and wonder through a selection of works by five contemporary artists from Japan. Storytelling has a strong presence in contemporary Japanese art, with the significance of sharing and reimagining both personal and communal stories becoming increasingly evident in the wake of major natural and human-caused events. The fairy tale, a genre of narrative that has long told stories about nonhuman beings and non-living things, can give us clues to imagining a more-than-human world that transforms the way people perceive and experience life. 

Storymakers evokes imagery from traditional fairy tales across cultures including The Little Match Girl and stories of interspecies relationships and transformations. This exhibition features a newly created work by interdisciplinary artist Tomoko Kōnoike, videos by Yūichi Higashionna and Fuyuhiko Takata, paintings by Maki Ohkojima and a flip book animation by Masahiro Hasunuma.

Curated by Emily Wakeling and Mayako Murai, the artworks in this exhibition, with their re-workings of materials, formats and corporeal experiences, revisit old familiar stories in new forms to transcend the anthropocentric worldview. It is this view that has made the modern world blind to vital connections humans hold with the earth and all its inhabitants.

Exhibiting Artists

Masahiro Hasunuma (b.1981, Tokyo) is an artist and documentary photographer. He earned a doctor’s degree at Tokyo University of the Arts Artistic Anatomy Laboratory in 2010 with a study on self-portraits. Hasunuma trained at the German Film Museum as part of the Agency of Cultural Affairs’ Program of Overseas Study in 2016. Recent exhibitions include the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial (Niigata, 2015), Acquiring by counting (solo, gallery N, Aichi, 2019), and Prepare to prepare the story (solo, Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design, 2020). He is currently based in Nagano Prefecture.

Yūichi Higashionna (b. 1951, Tokyo) has continued to create works using commonplace objects from everyday life and surroundings as motifs. His works include the ‘”Chandelier’” series, in which round fluorescent lamps emitting pure white flat light are intertwined, and the ‘Flower’ series, an installation of paintings and objects moulded from artificial flowers and chain with spray paint. His major exhibitions include Large Interior (solo, Void +, 2021), Masked Portrait I & II (Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, 2011 & 2008), Glasstress (Fondazione Berengo, Venice, 2015 & 2011), The New Décor (Hayward Gallery, London) and, Roppongi Crossing (Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2007).

Tomoko Kōnoike (b. 1960, Akita) was involved in the planning and design of toys, sundries, and furniture, and these activities have carried over into the present day after graduating from the Department of Painting (Japanese Painting) at Tokyo University of the Arts. She employs several kinds of media—animation, illustrated books, painting, sculpture, songs, photography, handcrafts, or fairy tales—and has participated in many interdisciplinary sessions with people in other fields, creating site-specific works that incorporate descriptions of a region’s climate and terrain, and continuing to address primordial questions about art. Her major exhibitions include Jam Session: Ishibashi Foundation Collection x Tomoko Konoike Tomoko Konoike FLIP (ARTIZON MUSEUM, Tokyo,  2020), and Inter-Traveller (Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Tokyo, 2009). Her major travelling exhibition The Birth of Seeing will open at Takamatsu Art Museum, Kagawa, in July 2022.

Maki Ohkojima (b.1987, Tokyo) creates paintings and murals on the theme of ‘The World of Living Things’, depicting the intricately intertwined natural world and the endless chain of life on walls, floors, and ceilings in every direction. She stands in-between the contact zone of different things, and depicts the entangled aspects of life and death. OhOhkojima internalises her own vision of animals, forests, fungi, and minerals, and seeks to tell a story through her paintings. Her major exhibitions include Bones, the solid sea inside of body. – petrified plants  (HARUKAITO, Tokyo, 2019). Eye of whale (Aquarium de Paris, France, 2019) and Birds, sing the songs of the earth, through my bones (Dai-ichi Life Gallery, Tokyo, 2015). 

Fuyuhiko Takata (b.1987, Hiroshima) creates video works in the field of contemporary art. He completed the doctoral course in oil painting at the Tokyo University of the Arts in 2017. Takata creates pop and humorous video works that deal with diverse themes and images such as mythology, fairy tales, sex, gender, narcissism, and trauma. Most of his works are shot in the artist’s small apartment, and are characterised by a handmade feel and the occasional erotic expression. His major exhibitions include LOVE PHANTOM 2 (WAITINGROOM, Tokyo, 2021) and MAM Screen011: Takata Fuyuhiko (Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2020).


Mayako Murai is professor of English and comparative literature at Kanagawa University, Japan. She is the author of From Dog Bridegroom to Wolf Girl: Contemporary Japanese Fairy-Tale Adaptations in Conversation with the West (2015) and co-editor of Re-Orienting the Fairy Tale: Contemporary Adaptations across Cultures (2020), both published by Wayne State University Press. She curated the exhibition Tomoko Konoike: Fur Story held at the Blenheim Walk Gallery, Leeds Arts University in 2018 and has been collaborating with Konoike on the ongoing art project Storytelling Table Runner since 2014. She is currently writing a book on fairy-tale animals in contemporary art and picturebook illustration.

Emily Wakeling is an Australia-based curator and art writer who specialises in contemporary Japanese art. She is the Curator of Rockhampton Museum of Art and was part of the curatorial team for the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial at Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art. Emily was based in Tokyo 2010-2016 and held several arts related roles in this time, including editor for Tokyo Art Beat, lecturer in cultural studies at Joshibi University of Art & Design and Kanagawa University, and author of Art & Society. She has independently delivered curatorial projects featuring contemporary Japanese artists in Australia including Compassionate Grounds: Ten Years on in Tohoku held in Brisbane and Melbourne in 2021.


Learn More



July 29, 2022 (Friday)
Opening address at 6:30pm
Bookings not required

Mon–Fri: 10am–6pm
Sat: 11am–4pm
Closed Sundays, July 15, August 20, August 27, October 3, December 21–31

The Japan Foundation, Sydney
Level 4, Central Park
28 Broadway, Chippendale NSW 2008



(02) 8239 0055

Header image: Fuyuhiko Takata, Dream Catcher, 2018

Storymakers Program

Presented by

Back To Top