Art As It Is: Expressions from the Obscure features artists who are independently creating their own worlds without reference to existing art and fashions or the existence of any formal training or disabilities. Self-taught artists gained widespread attention in the early twentieth century. Their works provided new artistic discoveries and the inspiration for a new era that shook the existing art world. The need for such artists remains the same; if anything, even more so today. They have an independence and diversity that is a source of creative inspiration not just for the artistic world, but for the wider community. Their art has an important cultural role, bringing diversity and asking the fundamental and basic question of what it means to be human. Art As It Is presents approximately 200 works from a total of twenty-five self-taught artists who have gained recognition in Japan and elsewhere around the globe in recent years. They are being shown with images of the artists going about their daily lives and their artistic work taken from two NHK Educational TV programs: Expressions from the Obscure, which has been on air since 2017; and the documentary series, no art, no life. We get a glimpse of fascinating and diverse artistry and truly human artists.

Exhibiting Artists

Imamura hanako / Imura momoka /
Okura fumiko / Kanasaki masashi /
Kawakami kenji /
Ki tomihisa /
Kishaba moriya / CANKTLE /
Kokubo norimitsu / Komoriya akira /
Sakamoto ikuyo /
Sawai reiko /
Sawada shinichi / Shuji takashi /
Sugiura atsushi / Suzuki marie /
Takada sachie /
Cho megumu /
Hayashida reiichi / Fukui makoto /
Fujioka yuki / Herai takanori /

Matsumoto hironobu /
Yamagiwa masami / Watanabe yoshihiro
(Japanese alphabetical order)

Artist list




Title The special exhibition “Art As It Is; Expressions from the Obscure”
Main Organizers Tokyo University of the Arts, NHK, Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan Arts Council
Co-organizer International Exchange Program Executive Committee for Disabled People’s Culture and Arts
Supporter Art Brut Network
Grant Hitotsubashi Sogo Foundation
Duration The special exhibition “Art As It Is; Expressions from the Obscure” has ended.
Thank you for visiting.

July 23, 2020 (Thu., holiday) - September 6, 2020 (Sun.)
*Venue closed on Mondays
It will be open on August 10 (Mon., holiday) and closed on August 11 (Tues.).
*On July 30 (Thurs.) entry to the exhibition will begin at 12 noon.
Venue The University Art Museum, Tokyo University of the Arts(12-8 Ueno Park, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 110-8714, Japan)Access
Opening hours:from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.(Final admission 4:30 p.m.)
For inquiries (NTT Hello Dial) 03-5777-8600 (from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. all year)
NHK Programs
「no art, no life」

Wednesday 22:45 Educational TV
Tuesday 21:55 BS4K
Saturday11:50 NHK WORLD TV

Available on the NHK World-Japan On Demand website and app.

Watch! On Demand



The University Art Museum, Tokyo University of the Arts (the former name: Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music)

12-8 Ueno Park, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 110-8714, Japan
  • 10 minutes from Ueno Station by JR Line orNezu Station by Chiyoda Subway Line.
  • 15 minutes from Ueno Station by Ginza, Hibiya Subway Line orKeisei Ueno Station by Keisei Line.

* No parking in the museum.