Exhibitions

InterNations meets 3331 Arts Chiyoda

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3331ArtsChiyoda

Looking out at the New York City skyline from atop the new Whitney Museum I was reflecting on the ambiguous title of the new Whitney’s inaugural art exhibition: “America is Hard to See”. In referencing Robert Frost’s ode to the unintended consequences of discovering America, I thought of my own discovery tour of the Japanese art world. Whitney curators appeal to the difficulty of charting the course of American art, and perhaps of the American identity itself. Art is not only a portal to the identities of the artist, but also an opportunity to escape the limitations of one’s own narrow perspectives and discover new possibilities.

Transcending borders is what expats do for a living, so it was fitting that Project Art Lounge invited members of the expat organization InterNations to visit 3331 Arts Chiyoda Center in Tokyo. In a converted high school building near the manga and electronics mecca of Akihabara, artist Masato Nakamura has created a space to bring together contemporary artists and the local community. Rather than the sleek facade of many new contemporary art spaces, this revitalization of an existing public gathering spot is a unique pairing between old and new traditions of Japan. Like the traditional call and response ritual symbolized in the 3331 name, a single stroke of ingenuity enables artists and galleries to show off their hard work and achievement.

3331 Chiyoda Arts hosts more than 10 contemporary art galleries along side co-working spaces and creative agencies such as the Huffington Post and Softbank’s robotics lab featuring Pepper. Through an artists in residence program, international artists add global perspective to an otherwise very local environment which also plays host to community flee markets and knitting clubs. An interesting gift shop and Japan’s only Lomography Gallery Store can be found in the center’s lobby.

During the InterNations visit, Tama Art University’s AKIBATAMABI21 gallery gave a sneak preview of their new graduate curated show. The Kyoto Design Lab showed of innovations in 3D-Printing and architectural innovation. KIDO Press presented the emotive manga-esque prints of Bangkok artist Wisut Ponnimit, while Bambinart Gallery showed an enigmatic paintings solo show by Shinobu Hanazawa. In Gallery Jin, visitors learned the difference between the words “kawaii” (cute) and “chow” (scary) in an freakishly intriguing installation by Yuriko Sasaoka. The art space Island Medium presented an simple but poignant installation from Akira Fujimoto’s “New Recycle” series, which was also featured along side Yang02’s work at the Art Fair Tokyo. The Able Art Gallery showed a number of interesting works produced by artists with disabilities.

The exhibition that drew the biggest response from the expat visitors, though, was probably the exhibition of #Hogalee at Gallery Out of Place Tokyo. The artist was on hand with gallery director Kazushige Suzuki and assistant Emily, who guided the group of expats on a tour of the center.

In the show “n-th derivatives”, artist Hogalee quotes a work by Cindy Sherman before superscribing himself with photographs of his own version of Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #96 taken at spots around Tokyo like a traveling gnome. By further expanding the idea of derivatives, Hogalee invites visitors to take pictures of his work and post them on social media with the hashtag #hogalee. Hogalee then re-appropriates the images on Hogalee’s instagram account, displaying the resulting posts in the gallery in a manner similar to the Instagram series presented by artist Richard Prince.

After a fascinating tour, the expats of InterNations had plenty to talk about over food and drinks in the center’s 3331 food lab. As exhibitions change almost monthly (including an impressive exhibition of Jasper Johns prints at KIDO Press), 3331 Arts Chiyoda center is definitely worth a return visit. The exhibition schedule can be found on their website: http://www.3331.jp/schedule/en/.

Firewalls – Brandmauern

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Visitors to the Project Art Lounge exhibition of Water Abstracts – Photographs by Silvia Sinha also got a sneak preview of her new series entitled “Brandmauern” or Firewalls. Like her water photographs, these are images of change and transformation. By capturing the rough and sometimes colorful exteriors of exposed sustaining walls – occasionally outlining a once neighboring building – Sinha not only demonstrates her painterly eye for detail, she also documents the ebb and flow of the city. As Berlin continues to transform and evolve, these urban vistas will also change and many will even disappear. Their lasting image, however, is thoughtfully preserved with Silvia Sinha’s photographs.

Silvia Sinha’s Brandmauern series was featured in the 6th European Month of Photography exhibition at Carpentier Galerie in Berlin. Silvia spoke about her new works at an exhibition in the the offices of Representative Dilek Kolat, legislator in Berlin. They will also be the subject of a museum show at Museum St. Wendel from September 13 – November 1, 2015 in Saarland.

A number of her “Firewalls” photographs can be viewed in the Firewalls album on her Facebook artist page.

Firewalls - Silvia Sinha

Exhibition: WATER ABSTRACTS – Photographs by Silvia Sinha

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Thank you to everyone who visited the “Water Abstracts” exhibition featuring photographs by Berlin artist Silvia Sinha. For another look at the artworks on exhibit, click here. Please contact Project Art Lounge below if you have any questions about Silvia Sinha, are interested in adding Silvia’s work to your collection or simply want to be added to our newsletter.

Silvia Sinha

“Mystery of mysteries, water and air are right there before us in the sea. Every time I view the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a voyage of seeing.”

Hiroshi Sugimoto

In the exhibition Water Abstracts, Silvia Sinha takes us on her own “voyage of seeing.” In this second exhibition of Silvia Sinha’s works presented by Project Art Lounge, the artist explores not the seaside, but the concrete jungle of Berlin. While Sugimoto contemplates the co-existence of water and air as the source of life, Silvia’s photographs reflect upon the other elements of light and flow – 光と流 – hikari to nagare. In the middle of a big city, she studies how water gives life to the urban landscape by capturing the fleeting contours of the cityscape as they are reflected on the water’s surface.

In thriving metropoles like Berlin and Tokyo, it can be difficult to find the calm places and moments of reflection that are embodied in Sugimoto’s seascapes. Silvia Sinha’s photographs remind us that the flow of life – both tranquil and dynamic – are in front of us every day. Her work is not the result of a snapshot or a chance encounter. Instead, like the work of other artists, her’s is the result of long periods of observation and introspection. In Silvia’s own words, her artwork “arises out of a very contemplative process that requires a high level of attention and a lot of time. Seeing and composing on the spot is from the perspective of the visual arts an important basis of my work.”

In her series Water Abstracts, Silvia Sinha continues to build her portfolio of abstract photographs, which were also presented by Project Art Lounge in the exhibition LIGHT BREAKS in Basel, Switzerland. Like her series about “Firewalls” in Berlin, Water Abstracts symbolizes the ever changing flow of the urban landscape. Her photographs are presented as a canvas that is neither literal nor without meaning. Silvia Sinha: “What I see is a painting on the water’s surface – one of vivid shapes and colors – which gains in abstraction through my deliberate focus, while it’s subject develops an entirely new vitality.”

Invitation only: please click to RSVP

お返事お願いします 
www.projectartlounge.com/events

美術展オープニングリセプション:2015年3月25日(水)6:00-9:30 PM
美術展観覧時間:2015年3月25日(水)~2015年4月22日(水)期間中
の毎週水曜日 6:00-9:30PM、それ以外の日時は事前予約にて

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Dream Collectors

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The ultimate collector’s dream is not only to have a one-of-a-kind collection, but also to collect one of everything – a comprehensive compilation of everything the collector’s heart desires. Taken to an extreme, however, collecting for the sake of collecting can quickly turn into a nightmare. Such was the case at the 55th Venice Biennale entitled “The Encyclopedic Palace.” With an ambitious title borrowed from the work of artist Maurini Auriti, the 2013 edition of “the” Biennale alluded to Auriti’s dream “to hold all the works of man in whatever field, discoveries made and those which may follow.” In the end, it seemed like Auriti was trying a little too hard. After an inspiring collection of country pavilions, the overwhelming and disparate selection of art and artifacts in the main hall was a disappointment. Akin to the “uncertainty and collective acts” shared by artist Koki Tanaka at the Japan pavilion, the Biennale itself was an endless loop of memories and routines with few moments of inspiration or hope.

So why this belated critique of the 2013 Venice Biennale? The answer can be found in Yokohama. After a disillusioning experience in Venice, I became skeptical about the repetitive and exaggerated nature of biennials, triennials and the like. Thankfully, the Yokohama Trienniale has re-awakened me to the dream of a fresh and well curated collection. To begin with, artistic director Yasumasa Morimura does away with the idea of an “all encompassing” collection. He reminds us that the ability to let go and forget (discard) is a conscious choice, whether it regards the thoughtful editing of a curator or our own individual acts of dismissal of memories and routines. To drive this idea home, Morimura invited British artist Michael Landy and his 7 meter tall “Art Bin” into the center of the main hall of the Yokohama Art Museum in which artists and visitors could discard of artworks thereby sending them off into a “see of oblivion.”

The natural and easy flow from one section of the Triennale to the next is perhaps as quintessential as any experience in Japan which appears effortless on the surface but is actually the result of detailed preparation and hard work, with little left to chance. From “Unmonumental Monuments” and “Listening to Silence and Whispers” to “Laboring in Solitude” and “A drifting Journey,” the Yokohama Triennale is quietly provocative. The section entitled “Fahrenheit 451” presents New York artist Taryn Simon’s piece “Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII” including works censored by Chinese authorities last year. Still, some may criticize the Yokohama exhibition as being “too clean” or Morimura for “playing it safe”. What it lacks in drama, however, the Triennale makes up for in a compelling and well developed narrative, which is easily accessible in wall texts, a mobile app and the official guide book. Compared to Venice – the professional level of english language “outline” at the Yokohama Triennale is unrivaled, and that’s no easy accomplishment in an otherwise language-challenged Japan.

There’s no question that the contemporary art world is much more diverse (and controversial) than the well-curated exhibition in Yokohama. That being said, there’s much to enjoy about an exhibition which doesn’t prompt the question “Is that Art,” but is – to borrow the words of Mark Twain – “like a good story well told.” It’s like waking from a dream that you won’t want to forget. Last chance to see it: the Yokohama Triennale runs through Monday, November 3rd.

 

 

Unlike the “uncertainty and collective acts” shared by artist Koki Tanaka out of at the Japan pavilion, the encyclopedic palace felt disconnected

The hard reality of “Go-Betweens”

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Go Betweens at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo

If children’s songs are known for their easy melodies and lyrics, the exhibition Go-Betweens: The World Seen through Children demonstrates that the lives of children are all but simple. The Mori Art Museum in Tokyo has put together an impressive collection of artwork depicting a complex world, in which children are challenged to endure, transgress and bridge cultural, personal and family conflicts and other borderline situations as they are growing up. A common theme is how children uniquely master these challenges through their ability to move freely between the worlds of reality and imagination.

Through creative cardboard cutouts, drawing tables for kids and placement of many works at child-eye-level, the exhibition is a summertime invitation to the whole family. Content-wise, however, the orchestration is clearly tuned to the adult visitor. The works of 26 artists are divided into 5 thematic categories, which at times feels a bit overdefined, but helpful nonetheless.

The title of the exhibition stems from the Danish-American photographer Jacob Riis, whose works in the first section of the exhibition show the plight of children confronted by cultural and economic division. Images of Japanese-Americans in internment camps by Toyo Miyatake are particularly impressive. Prideful large format photographs by Kim Insook of Zainichi Korean families in Japan are juxtaposed against oddly disturbing pictures by Zhang O showing young Chinese girls posing with their adoptive American fathers. Set among garden flowers and trees, the latter pieces suggest something both natural and unsettling about these relationships.

After raising questions about cultural ambiguity, the next two sections deal with sources of isolation, pain and conflict that children face in their everyday lives. The video loop “Eight” by Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler show the infinite, “rainy day” loneliness of the child in a adult world, while an impressive mixed media piece by Christian Boltanski portrays the almost faceless anonymity of young people in a world full of evils as unimaginable – even for children – as the holocaust.

Luckily, Tracey Moffat’s edgy photographs with lighthearted tag lines add a welcome irreverence to ease the mood before we move on to the fourth section which is dedicated to the trials and tribulations of emotionally insecure pubescence.

The depiction of teenagers in search of their own identity is surely no easy task. An important film by Tomoko Kikuchi portraying the sexual exploration of a young tom boy in China gets drowned out by a larger surrounding piece showing the downfall of a Chinese town as if the teen’s soul searching was simply the fate of a decaying society. The pictures of Kayo Ume and installation “Tomorrow” by Fiona Tan are further interesting attempts to go inside the adolescent psyche. Unlike the highly charged photographs of Larry Clark and Ryan McGinley in other exhibitions, though, the world as seen through the eyes of “the fourth sex” here comes up short.

If you were expecting to enjoy childhood fun, fantasy and cheer, you’ve so far been disappointed. In the fifth and last section entitled “Moving between Different Dimensions,” you’ll finally be rewarded. Whether listening to kids explain how they came into the world in Shiota Chiharu’s video series or the fantastical fairy tale collages by Won Seoung Won, this is where kids finally get their say. One of my favorite pieces in the whole exhibition is the video “The Weeping Woman” by Rineke Dijkstra, in which school kids give their own interpretations of a painting by Picasso (it’s actually more fun if you don’t know what they are looking at).

As if too much good cheer is a bad thing, the final room of the exhibition is a display by the artist Yamamoto Takayuki from her series “New Hell.” In response to the question, “What kind of hell will we go to?” children created sculptures depicting fantasy filled monsters and machines to devour and eradicate the bullies and bed guys (and presumably themselves if they don’t watch out). With these prospects in mind one is left with the ambiguous feeling that even a fantastical world weighs heavy on children. If it weren’t for their honesty, creativity and ability to bridge differences as “go-betweens,” our world would be a lot worse off. This exhibition will not make you reminisce about or long for a warm and innocent childhood, but to the credit of the exhibition’s curators it will leave you with a good question in mind: why do we subject children to so many “evils” and force them to deal with unsettling realities they didn’t create. Instead, we should encourage them to do what they do best: imagine things as they ought to be.

*On that note: here’s a TED talk by Korean novelist Young-ha Kim to cheer you up:

 

 

 

Lights out for LIGHT BREAKS

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Exhibition LIGHT BREAKS Exhibition LIGHT BREAKS

The lights went out for LIGHT BREAKS on Sunday night at Project Art Lounge’s first international exhibition. But as Silvia Sinha, Michele Schuff and Kamila Najbrtová return to work in their studios at home, the positive feedback in Basel continues to pour in. 

With visitors likening their works to James Turrell and Dan Flavin, these three artists clearly set Atelier Davidseck aglow with their own interpretations of light filled spaces. 

In two days, nearly 100 visitors engaged the artists in an intense dialogue, exchanging “tips of thought” and giving evidence that the glow worms evoked in Dylan Thomas’s poem were all about. 

As Project Art Lounge sets out to discover new ways to help art enthusiasts discover great art, take a moment to enjoy some impressions from LIGHT BREAKS on the Project Art Lounge youtube channel: http://youtu.be/81OReaw3uuc

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