FOLON: Agency of Imaginary Journeys

FOLON: Agency of Imaginary Journeys

Saturday, July 13 -Monday, September 23, 2024

Mondays (except July 15, August 12, September 16, and September 23), July 16
10:00 am to 6:00 pm (8:00 pm on Fridays)
Last admission is 30 minutes before closing time.

Exhibition Overview

Jean-Michel Folon (1934-2005) is one of Belgium's leading artists of the late 20th century. Impressed by a mural by Magritte that he happened to encounter in his youth, Folon was drawn to the world of painting and spent his days drawing in the suburbs of Paris, where he moved in 1955. He sent some of his works to publishers in America, and soon they were to be printed on the covers of prestigious magazines such as The New Yorker and Time in the early 1960s. Since then, he has been highly acclaimed worldwide, and has shown remarkable success, with solo exhibitions held at museums around the world.

At first glance, his colorful and poetic works appear beautiful and refreshing, however they contain hidden accusations against harsh realities such as environmental destruction and human rights issues, and at the same time convey feelings of loneliness and anxiety in the basso continuo.

This exhibition shows more than 230 works such as drawings from his early career, watercolour paintings, etchings, posters and sculptures of his later years. This is the first major retrospective exhibition in Japan in 30 years. At the time when we are facing major changes in society such as digitalisation, pandemic and war, this exhibition aims to focus on Folon’s art, who were highly aware of environmental and social issues, and protested against oppression, violence and discrimination throughout his career.

Cover of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1988, Fondation Folon ©Fondation Folon, ADAGP/PARIS, 2024-2025

Unusual (original work for the cover of The New Yorker magazine), 1976, Fondation Folon ©Fondation Folon, ADAGP/PARIS, 2024-2025

Lettera 32 Olivetti per tutti, 1967, Fondation Folon ©Fondation Folon, ADAGP/PARIS, 2024-2025

Untitled, Fondation Folon ©Fondation Folon, ADAGP/PARIS, 2024-2025

Voyage dans la lune, 1981, Fondation Folon ©Fondation Folon, ADAGP/PARIS, 2024-2025


1. The Magician of Colour

The great appeal of Folon’s works are the beauty of its colours. However, the number of colours used in a single piece is never large. By skillfully combining the limited numbers of colours and making full use of gradations and blurs, Folon creates the miraculously magnificent world.

L’Etranger, 1991, Fondation Folon ©Fondation Folon, ADAGP/PARIS, 2024-2025

2. The Master of Lines

The lines he drew were carefree and dynamic, however, they are so precise, as if they were predetermined and there is no sense of hesitation in the slightest.

Untitled, Fondation Folon ©Fondation Folon, ADAGP/PARIS, 2024-2025

3. The Mysterious Little Man in the Hat

The little man in the hat is a character you see often in Folon’s works. He plays the role of a companion of the main theme of this exhibition, imaginary journey, but who exactly is he? Folon said that the little man in the hat is someone who looks like Folon himself, but at the same time, he is nobody. Maybe the artist himself does not know who it is.

Le Secret, 1999, Fondation Folon ©Fondation Folon, ADAGP/PARIS, 2024-2025 ©photograph by Fernandez

4. A Sweet Devil?

Folon’s works are approachable, refreshing and humorous which easily drags the viewer to its art world. But don't let your guard down. Behind the sweetness, a quiet anger and harsh reality may be hidden.

Greenpeace Deep Deep Trouble, 1988, Fondation Folon ©Fondation Folon, ADAGP/PARIS, 2024-2025

5. Arrows and Labyrinths

Folon was obsessed with arrows. He would take photos whenever he saw them in a city and also drew them tremendously in his works. Pointing in all directions, where or what exactly are those many arrows pointing? If you follow them, it seems like you will end up in a labyrinth.

Untitled, ca.1968, Fondation Folon ©Fondation Folon, ADAGP/PARIS, 2024-2025


  • Prologue: The Journey Begins
  • Chapter 1: This Way, That Way, or Some Other Way?
  • Chapter 2: What Do You Hear?
  • Chapter 3: What Should We Talk About?
  • Epilogue: Where Do We Go from Here?

Untitled, ca.1983, Fondation Folon ©Fondation Folon, ADAGP/PARIS, 2024-2025


Admission Fees
Adults: 1,500 (1,300) yen, High school and University students: 1,300 (1,100) yen
Junior high-school students and younger: Free
  • *Prices in (  ) indicate the advance ticket prices.
  • *Advance tickets are available online from June 1 to July 12, 2024.
  • *Persons with disability certificate or similar receive a 200 yen discount, and one accompanying helper is admitted free.
  • *Students must present student ID upon entrance to the museum.
Buy Tickets

Where to Buy Tickets:

  • At Online
  • ・At the Entrance of Tokyo Station Gallery
  • *Please purchase tickets online in advance to ensure smooth entry.
  • *Please purchase tickets at the museum if you wish to receive a discount by presenting a coupon or membership card. Please note that you may be asked to wait to enter during congested times.
Organized by
Tokyo Station Gallery [East Japan Railway Culture Foundation],
The Tokyo Shimbun,
Fondation Folon, Belgium
With the support of
Embassy of Belgium in Japan
With the special cooperation of
Wallonie-Bruxelles International
With the sponsorship of
T&D Insurance Group