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Photo: Keisuke Inoue



Atsushi Watanabe



Since Graduating from  Tokyo University of the Arts, Atsushi Watanabe has been presenting socially critical artworks based on his and other peoples experiences with emotional scars and mind traps. The subject matter varies from new religions, economic disparity, homelessness, animal rights, sexual minorities, hikikomori to mental illnesses — things which are often viewed negatively and as taboo by society.


In recent years, he has worked on numerous projects that used the internet to get the cooperation of emotionally scarred people, in order to investigate hidden social issues, as well as his own experiences as a “hikikomori.” In doing so, his work tackles the possibility and impossibility of empathy between insiders and outsiders, and of the nature of social inclusion, as well as extending to themes of society, culture, welfare and psychology.


Watanabe's work seeks the possibility of an art that acts directly to make mental interventions in social problems and thereby solve them.


In addition to putting out artistic works, Watanabe has also appeared in television programs such as the social welfare program “Breakthrough” (NHK E-Tele, 2016), and “Heart Net TV” (NHK E-Tele, 2018-2019), and contributed writing to magazines, newspapers, and online publications, for the perspective of someone who has experienced social problems, and as a cultural commentator. He also lectures on topics both within art and on other topics. In 2016, he joined ARTIST’S GUILD. Part-time lecturer at Musashino Art University, Tokyo (from 2020).



>  Atsushi Watanabe website: 

>  I’m here project website: 

>  Instagram: 


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1978  Born in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan.

2007  B.A. in Painting, Fine Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts.

2009  M.F. Painting Major, the Graduate School of Fine Arts, Graduate School of Tokyo University of the Arts.



Selected Solo Exhibitions and Project Exhibitions 


2021  “The Day We Saw the Same Moon”, R16 studio, Kanagawa.

2020  “Monument of recovery”, BankART SILK, Kanagawa.

2019  “ATSUSHI WATANABE” Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, London, England.

2019  “I’m here project Photobook publication commemoration exhibition <Gaze>”, Site-A Gallery Beneath the Railways, Kanagawa.

2017  “My wounds / Your wounds”, Roppongi Hills A/D Gallery, Tokyo.

2014  “Suspended Room, Activated House”, NANJO HOUSE, Tokyo.



Selected Group Exhibitions


2020  “2020 MMCA Asia Project ‘Looking for another family’,” (National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art/ MMCA, Seoul, Korea.

2020  “ARTEFACT 2020: ALONE TOGETHER, STUK, Leuven,” Belgium.

2019  “Ame ni mo makezu: singing in the rain,” BankART Station / R16studio, Kanagawa.

2017  “The Pandora’s box: Finding the Wondrous in the Geidai Collection”, The University Art Museum, Tokyo University of the Arts, Tokyo.

2016  “Koganecho Bazaar 2016 ‘Life - World of Asia’,”” Koganecho, Kanagawa. 



Selected Talks & Events


2020  “New Forms of Welfare and Art: Practice with Hikikomori” (Lecture), Hikari Community Center, Tokyo, Japan
2019  “Hikikomori in Japan and the UK” (Seminar) Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, London, UK
2019  “On the Violence of the Gaze: From the Field of Hikikomori” (Talk Event) Guest: Masaki Ikegami (Journalist)/Hikikomori, Site-A Gallery Beneath the Railways, Kanagawa, Japan
2019  “The 2nd Nagoya Trauma Study Group Lecture 'Hikikomori and Art' ” (Symposium), Nihon Fukushi University, Nagoya Campus, Aichi, Japan
2017  “Conference of the Japanese Society for Art Anatomy” (conference presentation), Tokyo University of the Arts, Tokyo, Japan
2016  “<Koganecho Bazaar 2016> Talk about Project <Tell me about your scars>” (talk event) Interviewer:Taro Amano (Chief Curator, Yokohama Citizens' Gallery Azamino), Site-D meeting hall, Kanagawa
2015  “Makoto Aida's Monthly Botakuri Bar” (Talk Event) Interviewer: Makoto Aida, Bigakko Art School, Tokyo
2015  “Watanabe-Atsushi no Hanashi” (Talk Event), Interviewer: Shingo Jinno (Associate Professor, Chiba University), Taisei Pouch, Kanagawa


[Selected Articles & Media]


  • "Tokyo Newspaper": Tell me your emotional scars, Yokohama artist Atsushi Watanabe listens through art, September 29, 2016.
  • "Yomiuri Shimbun": Making art with emotional scars, September 27, 2016.
  • "Kanagawa Newspaper": Listening to people’s emotional scars, September 18, 2016.



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  • "Heart net TVBreakthrough, Emotional scars shine in the future, contemporary artist Atsushi Watanabe" (NHK) , Aired on June 27, 2016. website,   video
  • ”NEWS 930α” (TV Kanagawa): Special feature, listening to emotional scars with art, a contemporary artist’s desire, Aired on November 4, 2016. 




  • Awarded ARTS COMISSION YOKOHAMA’s Creative Children Fellowship (grant for emerging artist cultivation in Creative City Yokohama), 2016. 


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