Art Exhibitions

Portland Japanese Garden is a natural vehicle through which to explore Japanese art and design. Art exhibitions explore ideas and aesthetics integral to the fabric of life in Japan. Introducing a wide array of artists and art forms, these exhibitions reflect on ways we experience peace through connections to art, nature, and one another.

Art exhibitions at Portland Japanese Garden began with Diane Durston, Curator Emerita (former Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Art and Education from 2007-2018). It launched with a series of four special exhibitions a year— one for each of the four seasons—that would reflect the intersection of art and nature and introduce the importance of seasonality in Japanese art and gardens. The exhibitions would celebrate work influenced by the aesthetics of Japan or created in response to the Garden itself.

Aki Nakanishi, Portland Japanese Garden’s current Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Art, and Education explains, “Traditionally, the role of Japanese gardens is to offer a place of quiet contemplation detached from the noise of modern society. But at the same time, Japanese gardens have always embraced, if not strived for a sense of symbiosis created at the intersection of architecture, art, and nature, which demonstrates the balance that can be achieved when nature and human ingenuity converge.”

Now more than a decade later, Portland Japanese Garden has successfully introduced the work of more than 75 artists representing Japan and its unique artistic traditions. The works come from internationally known artists—some of whom have been recognized as Living National Treasures in Japan, as well as rising young artists and artisans from all parts of the country.

Current Art Exhibition – Takahiro Iwasaki: Nature of Perception (Sept, 24 – Dec 4, 2023)

Featuring the work of our Artist-in-Residence, Takahiro Iwasaki, this Hiroshima-based artist gained worldwide recognition when he represented Japan at the 2017 Venice Biennale, a renowned contemporary art and architectural exposition often described as the Olympics of the art world. Iwasaki’s architecturally accurate models of historic Japanese sites are transformed into immersive installations, where his sculptures are suspended off the floor with an inverted duplicate model assembled underneath. 

Iwasaki plays with our sense of the familiar, using everyday materials and transforming them into extraordinary model landscapes that literally turn our expectations upside down. 

Reflection Model (Rashomon) by Takahiro Iwasaki, 2023. Photo by Jonathan Ley.

Guests can experience the exhibition in the Pavilion Gallery as well as the Calvin and Mayho Tanabe Gallery, which features a site-specific artwork created during Takahiro Iwasaki’s residency in September 2023 at Portland Japanese Garden.

Out of Disorder (Thread through Time), 2023 Takahiro Iwasaki. Photo by Jonathan Ley.

Tour Exhibitions Online

Explore the virtual tour of the current art exhibitions, Takahiro Iwasaki: Nature of Perception and Out of Disorder (Thread Through Time), (9/24/2023 – 12/4/2023) can be seen below. To see prior exhibitions, click on the right menu below titled “3D Model Gallery.”

Pavilion Gallery:

Calvin and Mayho Tanabe Gallery:

Explore Previous Art Exhibitions