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Sansui Tokyo is a collective that considers contemporary art and society under the theme of sansui thought to be peculiar to East Asia. Sansui is often regarded as a classical subject represented by landscape painting (sansuiga/shanshuihua) and rock gardens (karesansui), but an underlying human non-agency presents us with many implications in the 21st century.

Ryosuke Kondo, who presides over Sansui Tokyo, has long been interested in an understanding of nature rooted in East Asia and found in fieldwork in both Chinese feng shui and Japanese gardens while researching the history of the Western landscape. The term “landscape,” derived from the West, is premised on the binary opposition between humans (the subject) and nature (the object), whereas sansui, in East Asia, presupposes that both humans and nature exist undifferentiated in the flux of all things.

A perspective such as that of sansui, which does not fit within a limited framework of nature and landscape, can be effective when facing a present-day society in which modern Western values are ​​reaching a deadlock. Sansui Tokyo explores the world of sansui in a unique way and aims to build a new relationship between art and society.


  • Urban Sansui

    Fri. 10 – Sun. 19 March, 2023
    11:00 – 18:00 daily (no admittance after 17:00)
    Artists: Tomohito Ishii / Asako Fujikura / Taisuke Makihara / Rui Mizuki
    Curated by Ryosuke Kondo
    Research by Naoki Saito
    Assistance by Muen Koh
    Organized by Sansui Tokyo
    In cooperation with kudan house
    Technical support by YOKOITO Additive Manufacturing
    Supported by Toshiaki Ogasawara Memorial Foundation, Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture), Nomura Foundation
    Venue: kudan house


    Sansui, which was once the inspiration for landscape painting(sansuiga/shanshuihua) and dry rock gardens(karesansui), used to be a worldview widely rooted in the lifestyle and culture of the Japanese people until the early 20th century. It presupposes that humans and nature are inseparable; both exist undifferentiated in the flux of all things. At a time when modern Western values are at a standstill and concepts such as “common” and “care” are attracting attention, the philosophy behind Sansui provides a suggestive starting point for rethinking contemporary life and society.

    Rather than simply revive it, however, this exhibition aims to update the pre-modern Sansui from a contemporary perspective. Whereas in the past Chinese painters were inspired by the geology of the continent, with its steep mountain cliffs and fertile plains, the artists featured in this exhibition work in the city, filled with its buildings and infrastructure. Imagination is used to transform the surface of our urban environment, which, far more than the ancient ground beneath, reflects the seemingly incompatible, yet inseparable relationship between humans and nature. At the same time, the outbreak of the new coronavirus has made us realize the importance of carefully dealing with our daily lives and imagining the invisible other. This is precisely the kind of imagination that urban dwellers need in today’s society — “Urban Sansui.”

    kudan house is operated based on the idea of having inherited a historical building that has been weaving a story since its construction in 1927 and recreating the value of the place in the present age. It is iconic for the Spanish style and earthquake-resistant wall structure of the building, as well as the pragmatic composition of the garden, and conveys the thoughts and desires of former residents and guests, who cherished their daily lives, and of visitors past and present. This is consistent with the concept embraced by this exhibition, which questions how we imagine the things around us. Blurring the boundary between the subject and the object by seamlessly connecting works by contemporary artists with furniture that has been in use since before World War II, stately Western-style architecture with a modern garden, and private grounds with public urban spaces, the exhibition invites viewers into a world of Sansui.


  • Individual Sansui

    Sat. 15 February – Sun. 8 March, 2020
    12:00 – 19:00 daily (Fri., Sat., Sun., and National holidays)
    Artists: Tomohito Ishii / Shinichi Takashima + Shu Nakagawa / Taisuke Makihara / Rui Mizuki
    Organizer: Ryosuke Kondo (art critic)
    Venue: Komagome SOKO


    We are pleased to present Individual Sansui, an exhibition featuring four groups of artists at Komagome SOKO.

    Ryosuke Kondo, who organized this exhibition, has been interested in an understanding of nature rooted in East Asia through fieldwork in both Chinese Feng Shui and Japanese gardens, while researching the history of Western landscape. The term “landscape,” derived from the West, is premised on the presence of humans (the subject), whereas sansui originates in China and does not clearly distinguish human beings from nature. Rather than a visible world consisting of mountains and water, it is a symbol of polarities: yang and yin, static and dynamic, tangible and intangible; and it is believed that both humans and nature exist undifferentiated in the chain of things.

    Such a perspective of sansui is not limited to East Asia’s view of nature, but is also rich in suggestions for considering art and society in the age of globalization. For example, originals and reproductions that the modern art model regarded as a master-and-servant relationship will be reinterpreted as complementary. In addition, a human agency that is undermined by artificial intelligence and biotechnology may not be a given in the first place. In other words, sansui can be a keyword neither for nationalism nor for criticism against Western modernism but for thinking about the near future.

    The four groups of artists in this exhibition are diverse in terms of both mediums and interests, but they share an approach which intuitively seizes everyday objects, and they throw themselves into heteronomous thinking through physical relationships with materials, i.e. matter. The worlds they respectively evoke may be called sansui as a “topos” where people and nature are undifferentiated as substances and actions exist prior to thinking. This exhibition presents such potential of sansui. During the exhibition period, a series of gallery talks will be held with a variety of special guests to further explore the art of sansui.


Gallery Talks

  • 2023.03.18

    Urban Sansui “Reading Performance: Sub Sansui Urban Reading”

    Maiko Jinushi and Kanie Naha

  • 2023.03.18

    Urban Sansui “Guest Talk”

    Hiroki Yamamoto (Scholar of Cultural Studies), Asako Fujikura, and Ryosuke Kondo

  • 2020.03.07

    Individual Sansui “Gallery Talk”

    Guest: Yuri Mitsuda (Art critic)

  • 2020.02.29

    Individual Sansui “Civil Engineering of Rock Garden: Topography and Borrowed Scenery”

    Guest: Takashi Awano (Associate Professor, Tokyo University of Agriculture)

  • 2020.02.22

    Individual Sansui “Artist Talk”

    Guest: Artists featured in the exhibition

  • 2020.02.15

    Individual Sansui “A Range of Chinese Landscape Painting: Imaginary Tour and Reproduction”

    Guest: Motoyuki Kure (Curator, Kyoto National Museum)


  • Tomohito Ishii


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  • Shinichi Takashima
    + Shu Nakagawa

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  • Asako Fujikura


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  • Taisuke Makihara


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  • Rui Mizuki

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  • Ryosuke Kondo

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