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5 Famous Japanese Contemporary Artists Worldwide

By Guidable Writers Aug 11, 2017


Your Guide to Japan’s Art Museums

Art Museum

Japan is home to many famous contemporary artists who have made their marks globally thanks to their eccentric masterpieces. The arts they produce are culturally diverse and reflect the relevant issues in society today.

You may have heard of Yayoi Kusama and her colorful dots and nets pieces. She has done her art exhibition not only in Tokyo, but in other parts of Asia, Europe, and the United States as well.

Aside from Kusama, Guidable has rounded up below some of the famous contemporary artists in Japan, and whose arts you should check out. Each of them has their own dynamic concepts and methods they use to express their art.


Mariko Mori


In her early works, this former model and fashion designer used herself as a subject, in photographs of fantastic Manga-inspired settings. She is best known for melding Eastern Mythology and Western Culture in her large-scale self-portraits. Nowadays, she does performance art on various subjects relating to fashion, science fiction, and pop culture, among others. Her art exhibitions this year are in Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, Sean Kelly Gallery at Art Basel in Hong Kong, and in Galerie Forsblom in Stockholm.


Takashi Murakami

Abstract Art

His paintings, sculptures, and animation are generally described as “superflat”, which refers to the combined aesthetic characteristics of the traditional Japanese art and contemporary art culture that appear in his masterpieces. He has immersed himself in both the fine and commercial arts. He has also founded an artist management agency and studio, the Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., which is based in New York and Munich.


Yoshitomo Nara



A contemporary of Takashi Murakami, Nara is famous for his paintings and drawings of wide-eyed children and animals. Some of the works you should check out are The Girl with the Knife in Her Side (1991), Silent Violence (1998) and There is Nothing (2000). Some of his works are in the collection of the National Museum of Art in Osaka and in the Art Institute of Chicago.


Chiharu Shiota

Unique paintings

She is famous for her large-scale art installations on various interesting themes like Perspectives (2004), an installation made with more than 300 donated shoes and notes from the donors, and Labyrinth of Memory (2012), an installation of a series of mostly white dresses swamped with black thread, the thread being a recurrence in most of her works. Her current exhibitions are primarily in the Netherlands, Sweden, France, and Germany.


Riusuke Fukahori

Fish Artwork


He considers himself a goldfish artist, who paints goldfish on resin layers with a three-dimensional optical effect. You can see his works on many household items, too. Most of his exhibits are in New York, but he also has an ongoing show at the Joshua Liner Gallery at the 2017 Seattle Art Fair.



Art appreciation is one way of understanding the society, culture, and community we are a part of. Understanding the art of different Japanese contemporary artists, appreciating their diverse techniques and themes, is a chance to gain fresher and deeper perspectives of the world. While you are in the home country of these famous artists, take every art appreciation opportunity, and use contemporary art as one of your ways to get to know more about Japan.

Have fun exploring Japan’s vibrant art scene!


Harumie I Philippines