The fair features around 180 galleries and other organizations putting their wares for collectors and the general to inspect and, hopefully, buy!
This year, G-Tokyo — previously an alternate art fair — has fused with Art Fair Tokyo to present a separate section within the main fair venue. In the past, the fair has used a separate venue or the upstairs floor to showcase younger contemporary galleries’ work. This year and last see just a single floor of the forum being used which, while spacious enough, does mean there isn’t the sense of demarcation between different kinds of art and art galleries as before.
You will need stamina to make it through all the booths!
Look out for the specially customize “art Mercedes-Benz” in the entrance.
A mini exhibition is also being held within the fair as part of its annual Artistic Practice series, this year highlighting Japanese modern painting from the late nineteenth century onwards.
If painting’s not your thing, how about the latest in animation and video art? The Japan Media Arts Festival is screening some of its 2013 award-winners at a special screen just outside the entrance to the fair.
There is also a “Discover Asia” section as well as cafe with cardboard furniture being painted by Aki Kondo.
The most exciting-looking part of the fair may also be its most esoteric. Aoyama Meguro gallery has accumulated a fantastic collection of photography by Mitsutoshi Hanaga that showcase the Japanese experimental art and theatre and dance scene from the 1960′s and 1970′s, as well as social movements and student protests from the era.
Whatever your tastes, there’s something for everyone.
Art Fair Tokyo runs from Friday March 7th to Sunday March 9th, 2014. Admission costs ¥2,000.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum has demanded the removal of an artwork that criticizes the visits to Yasukuni Shrine by members of the Japanese government.
The exhibition is now running, set to conclude on February 21st. It not one of the main exhibition events organized by the museum but part of its public galleries that often feature group shows. The exhibition features around 60 works of art presented by the Contemporary Japanese Sculpture Artist Federation.
One of these is “Portrait of the Times: Endangered Species, idiot Japonica Tomb” by Katsuhisa Nakagaki. The sculpture (pictured below) is a 1.5 meter dome shape draped in a Japanese flag, with pieces of paper on it with political messages written by hand urging the Constitution to be protected, the “folly” of the visits to Yasukuni to be recognized, and the ending of the current government’s “rightist tendencies.”
[Image via Asahi]
The visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine — a shrine in central Tokyo that houses the souls of the war dead, including convicted war criminals — has been a fiercely contested issue in Japan over the previous ten years. Shinzo Abe’s government has re-opened the wounds by officially visiting the shrine, drawing furious responses from Japan’s neighbors in Asia who suffered at the hands of the nation’s past colonialism.
The museum, though, has decided that it cannot allow its facilities to be used for “political activities”. It requested Nakagaki to remove the artwork on February 16th, one day after the exhibition began, and threatened him that if he did not agree, the whole exhibition would be cancelled and possibly prevented from future use of the museum’s facilities.
As a compromise on his part, Nakagaki has removed the handwritten political message. “I expressed my ideas as an artist. I sense the danger of speech control,” he was quoted as saying in media reports. This may not be enough to satisfy the museum, though… or the prime minister.
Heading to a Japanese onsen (hot spring) is one of the best trips you can do in Japan during the winter.
But the exclusive onsen resorts don’t come cheap and they need to keep innovating to attract people to pay top dollar rather than just head to one of the spas in the cities.
Dogo Onsen is one of the oldest hot spring resorts in Japan but it isn’t resting on its laurels. It has set up the Dogo Onsenart 2014 festival in ten hotels and Japanese inns (ryokan). This includes some pretty cool and flashy re-designing of hotel rooms as special art concept resorts for the festival.
Sites include Chaharu Inn, Takaraso Hotel, Dogo-kan, Hotel Kowakuen, Hotel Hanayuzuki and Hotel Horizontal. The Onsen Art Collection also changes the streets and outside of the onsens themselves.
There are also special art souvenirs, an artist residency, and one-off events such as Art Parade, which will be held on July 20th involving dance choreographer Kaiji Moriyama.
Participants include the ubiquitous Yayoi Kusama and her trademark polka-dot pumpkins Takaraso Hotel.
Even the seating cushions get the polka dot treatment!
If you are visiting Dogo for a dirty weekend away, stay at this room in Hotel Kowakuen with some erotic photos by Nobuyoshi Araki. You need to be at least 18 years old to stay at this room.
And for more literary tastes, the poetry of Shuntaro Tachikawa features in all kinds of places in this room.
There is also fashion designer Akira Minagawa’s re-design for at Hotel Hanayuzuki.
Other participating artists include Stephen Mushin and Mimi Shinko.
“We’d like visitors to enjoy ‘the chemical reaction’ of the guest rooms and the audacious ideas of the artists,” a festival official said.
The Shikoku district already has plenty of mixture of modern art and tourism, not least the successful Setouchi Triennale and the “art island” of Naoshima, as well as the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum near Takamatsu.
Produced by Wacoal/Spiral, Dogo Onsen Art then comes at an opportune time but we need to see how it competes in the summer against such major art events as the Yokohama Triennale. However, there is no Setouchi Triennale this year and it might be a great stop-off after visiting Naoshima.
The art hotel rooms have been available to guests since the end of December but the festival does not fully open until April 10th. It then runs until the end of 2014. There are a total of 10 rooms that are available for overnight stays and viewings until mid-January 2015.
See more images on YouPouch.
This coming winter, Japan’s iconic cosmetic brand, shu uemura, will celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of its beauty boutique in Omotesando in central Tokyo with the Christmas collection “Six Heart Princess by takashi murakami for shu.”
On August 29th, the brand had its first opportunity to present the collection in public at Shibuya Hikarie.
In collaboration with contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, this collection of nineteen cosmetic items is themed around “transformation,” featuring pink and black as the two primary colors that represent the duality of women. Six Heart Princess (6HP) is Murakami’s animation work which was first introduced at his exhibition in France, “Murakami Versailles,” back in 2010.
For this collaborative project with shu uemura, Murakami created a new character, Black Princess, and made a special version of the anime in the promotion of various cosmetic items which will all help women “transform” into beauties — or anything that they wish to become. The collection features a wide variety of cosmetics (priced from ¥1,470 to ¥27,300), ranging from single items such as eyelash extensions, gel pencil eyeliners, UV under base mousse, cleansing oil, to more convenient sets such as Palette Kit, Brush Set and Makeup Box.
At the event, a live makeup show was performed on stage. Another highlight was a dancing performance of Tempura Kidz, most famous as Kyary Pamyu Pamyu‘s backup dancers, complete with original mascot characters for the project.
Murakami has previously collaborated with Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs, while shu uemura has previously hired the artistic talents of film director Wong Kar-wai and photographer Mika Ninagawa.
Back in 2008, when the French embassy in Tokyo decided to demolish its premises and relocate, it invited in a whole bunch of French and Japanese artists to create site-specific temporary installations, artworks, concerts and more. The result, “No Man’s Land”, was one of the best bonanzas of art Tokyo has ever seen, so popular that they had to extend the event period.
Likewise, when the Tokyu Toyoko Line’s Shibuya Station, a rare example of a raised station in central Tokyo and much loved for its platforms semi-transparent to the world outside, chaotically moved underground, the original space has subsequently been utilized for pop-up retail and other events.
Tokyo likes to build and rebuild, and it is common for locals to display an apparent lack of sentimentality regarding buildings bordering on the sacrilegious for some, especially if you are from Europe.
Well, when manga publisher Shogakukan decided it was going to demolish its current building in September, it invited in a bunch of its manga artists to turn the blank walls into temporary comic book panels.
The results by Kazukiho Shimamoto, Naoki Urasawa and others were on the walls, windows, glass doors, columns… everywhere in the building was going to be demolished so everywhere could become a piece of graffiti manga!
Which artists’ work can you recognize?
Images via Togetter.
While people make charitable donations for (arguably) many different reasons, this year, the annual 24 Hour Television themed “Love Saves the Earth” — which will be aired on August 24th and 25th — might give you yet another excuse to be genuinely generous to others.
Charity or even volunteer work is certainly not a common habit in Japan. One reason might be because the Japanese are so humble that they think they cannot be useful to others — or the more probable one is that the majority of people do not bother to take action themselves, thinking that someone else — not me or us — will do it instead.
NTV’s 24 Hour Television is an annual telethon notoriously famous for spotlighting the physically challenged in a “sympathetic” light — an approach which has been harshly criticized by some as sheer hypocrisy. Unlike other telethons broadcast in different parts of the world, the purpose of this program is not so much to raise awareness of people in need of help, but to make its viewers look down on them as a group of completely powerless, voiceless people. In short, they think that we need a solid reason to be generous to others. (Personally, though, I don’t think we should condemn an attempt to support others regardless of their hidden intentions, if any.)
As part of the charity promotion, each year they design and sell their own charity t-shirts. This year, it’s a collaborative effort by Satoshi Ono from Arashi and the avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama. The tees have already been on sale for 1,500 yen since June 14th and are available in four colors (pink, blue, yellow and white), representing four seasons in Japan (spring, summer, fall and winter) respectively.
Here are the pink and blue versions.
And the yellow and white ones.
Kusama is known for her extensive use of polka dots and psychedelic patterns.
As described in the clip above, she has managed to turn what many would regard as insanity into something worthy of our attention. We think that there is a thick and clear line between sanity and insanity, but is it really a THICK line? Or IS there any line in the first place?
The t-shirt is already kawaii on the outside, but as one individual who very much admires Kusama’s attempt to be borderless in every possible way, I would like to interpret this particular piece of work as a way to question how we see, treat and judge others who are different.
As I mentioned before, the 24-Hour Television telethon likes to focus on the “extraordinary” aspects of physically challenged people, yet at the same time promoting the message of “Love Forever”, which is printed on the back of the T-shirt, as a universal value.
For the majority of people, though, “Love Forever” is not an easy task. The fact that they are asking for love on national television in a predominantly non-religious country means love is a product of hard work. And if the message of “Love Forever” has become prevalent enough in our hearts like in mass-produced t-shirts, that’s when such a show should really become extinct — which is not likely to happen anytime soon.
All in all, the new t-shirts look worth the price… even without the charity concept.
Last weekend I jumped on the Fukutoshin Line and headed down to Shibuya to check out Keitai Mizu (“mobile water”).
From what I had read, the event at Jingu-dori Park was set to be a mobile game, a treasure hunt for art. Players were given fifteen minutes to go through the parkette, search for artist-rendered sea creatures native to Tokyo, snap photos and send them to the Spatial Dialogues Twitter account via Instagram.
When I arrived at the park, I got much more than that. I was lucky enough to get a tour through the entire installation by Larissa Hjorth, one of the coordinators of the event.
The art and the park were put together in a meeting of worlds, of sorts. When you walk by Jingu-dori Park, it’s easy to spot the little bits of rubbish scattered amongst the shrubbery. The participating artists, such as Simon Perry and Kristen Sharp, used found objects to make their underwater animal creations, giving the hunt a real trash-to-treasure feel.
You might be wondering, though, what’s with the sea creatures? Why all the water? Not only did I receive a tour, but also a bit of a history lesson.
Did you know that once upon a time, a river ran right through the middle of Shibuya? It was a channel of natural beauty flowing through the city. Economic power and developmental change brought pavement. The river was forced underground and out of our minds.
I feel lucky to have met the creative team behind such a conceptually interesting event like Keitai Mizu. Throughout the rest of June you can check out other Shibuya: Underground Streams events happening in Tokyo.
We blogged last autumn about the opening of the Art Aquarium in Tokyo in 2012.
After the exhibition pulled in a whopping 200,000 visitors, it’s not surprisingly coming back to the Nihonbashi venue, this time from July 13th to September 23rd for seventy-three days.
As before, the emphasis is on the colors and magnificence to be enjoyed in goldfish, who are lumbered with a far more humble reputation in the west than their Japanese peers.
Produced by Hidetomo Kimura, the event puts the spotlight on kingyo, the fish beloved by Japanese since the Edo era. They feature prominently in art and design, and also traditional places like matsuri festivals, where they are often sold at stalls.
The first exhibition was in 2007. The numbers of fish in 2012 increased from previous years by 1.5 times to some 5,000, their fins and scaly bodies floating hypnotically in the darkness.
Here’s a promotional video for a previous year.
This year’s event will see more of a harmony of goldfish and the lighting. The venue will also be open at night time, making this perhaps the top Tokyo date spot for couples over the summer.
Much like Nuit Blanche, in my hometown of Toronto, Roppongi Art Night is an all night art festival consisting of large-scale outdoor art installations. It’s a beautiful experience that has to be seen to be believed.
I arrived a little earlier than I was supposed to, and stumbled upon the Roppongi Hills Spring Festival, which was booming with excited guests. I left and returned a little later on to find a Roppongi Hills still bustling with people, but also with beautiful and interesting installations.
[First photo from flickr user Ryosuke Takeoka]
Attending Roppongi Art Night is much like attending Nuit Blanche. When attempting to stick to a viewing schedule it almost feels as though you’re missing out installations. It’s best to just go with the flow of the crowd and let your eyes do the navigation for you.
[Photo by flickr user robochick]
One particular installation that stood out to me was the first that I saw. A wooden boat, strung up with colorful flags. A very classic looking piece. Upon closer inspection, the flags were covered in modern manga style illustrations. It felt like a representation of how I see Tokyo: traditional and modern seamlessly woven together.
Part of what makes installation art so interesting is that you, as the viewer, feel involved with the grand spectacle that has been created all around you. Roppongi Art Night filled everyone with a buzzing energy to give the city of Tokyo a running start into the spring season.