At Large  January 14, 2020  Chandra Noyes

See Artists' Visions of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics

©Tokyo 2020

Tomoko Konoike, Wild Things-Hachilympic

The Tokyo Summer Olympics begin in only a few short months. As hype builds for the July festivities, we’re getting a preview of the spirit of the games through twenty artist-created posters now on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. With twelve posters devoted to the Olympics Games and the remaining eight focusing on the Paralympic Games, no two works are alike.

Created by a range of artists, including painters, photographers, film-makers, and illustrators from around the world, the images vary widely in style and subject. Some are abstract, some are more literal, some dark and brooding, while others are exuberant.

Tomoko Konoike’s Wild Things-Hachilympic (above) has captured the child-like excitement and energy that surrounds the games, as channeled through the wide-eyed creature on her poster. The surreal animal and hovering bee are typical motifs in her work.

©Tokyo 2020

Viviane Sassen, Ludus

Dutch photographer Viviane Sassen’s Ludus is reminiscent of traditional Olympics imagery while being strikingly contemporary. The bright circles of color evoke the Olympic rings, highlighting moments of action from the moving figures beneath them. Clad in vaguely athletic gear, the two models’ expressive movements are as elegant as those of modern dancers.

©Tokyo 2020

Chris Ofili, The Games People Play

In The Games We Play, leading contemporary artist Chris Ofili positions several intertwined figures floating above the landscape. With Japan’s Red Sun in the background, the ambiguous figures allude to the way the Olympics brings diverse cultures together, while the work’s title reminds us of the myriad ways humans find to remain disparate.  

©Tokyo 2020

Akira Yamaguchi, Horseback Archery

An archer holds their horses’ reins between their teeth while aiming an arrow using only their feet. Soaring above a cityscape with a wheelchair dissolving beneath them, the triumphant figure in Akira Yamaguchi’s Horseback Archery captures the incredible commitment, fortitude, and talent of Paralympic athletes.

©Tokyo 2020

Mika Ninagawa, Higher than the Rainbow

A moment frozen in time in Mika Ninagawa’s beautiful Higher than the Rainbow encapsulates the tension of the Olympics: impressive athletes at the top of their fields, the thrill of competition, and the potential to win or lose it all.

©Tokyo 2020

Tomoyuki Shinki, Offense No.7

Sports fan and outsider artist Tomoyuki Shinki has perfectly captured the athleticism and emotion of the games. Vibrantly colored figures with bulging muscles battle it out in this moment of competition, one figure appearing to both smile and grimace through the clash.

©Tokyo 2020


A smiling child crosses his arms on a playground. Takashi Homma’s simple image of childhood innocence reminds us of the real people of Tokyo, and of the pure spirit of Games, one that is best felt when we marvel at them through a child’s eyes.

View all of the posters at Tokyo2020.

About the Author

Chandra Noyes

Chandra Noyes is the former Managing Editor for Art & Object.

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