I keep coming back to the DMO ARTS stand at Art Fair Tokyo. The Osaka based gallery is bursting in color. While the middle of the stand with it’s fantastical figures and portraits seem to attract most of the visitors, I prefer the quiet outside wall and alley way separating it from the next booth. There you will find artist Hideo Anze standing next to works from his solo exhibition “FRAMING”. The carefully constructed photographs glow with color which is key to Anze’s work. While the gallery director draws a comparison to the works of Thomas Demand, I rather see the constructivism of Imi Knoebel and the radiance of Dan Flavin. Perhaps my interest is also motivated by the similar radiance found in the works of Silvia Sinha. It’s quickly apparent, that Hideo isn’t fond of such comparisons. He feels quite at home with his own personal space in the realm of conceptual art. Even with a language barrier separating us, it was clear to me that FRAMING is part of a larger discussion that is still evolving. These pieces are sure to be a milestone in the current and very personal work by Hideo Anze. His works will be part of a group show “COGNITION / RECOGNITION” at DMO ARTS from March 8th to April 19th.
At the end of the first day at Art Fair Tokyo 2014, it’s too early to pick favorites or draw conclusions about the Japanese contemporary art scene. One thing is for sure, though: with plenty of refreshing young artists around every corner, tradition is never far away. Art Fair Tokyo combines the classical with modern and contemporary art like few other contemporary art shows. While one museum manager told me this is simply the result of the limited size of the contemporary art market in Japan (and the need to fill the booths), the fair’s curators paint a broader picture. In a section titled “Artistic Practice: Modernity, Created by Japan” the emergence of modernity in Japanese Art is chronicled over the decades of the last century, suggesting a continuity between the old and the new. In an interview with BlouinArtInfo, curator Hozu Yamamoto goes even further saying “We need to spread the message in Japan that art is precisely a commodity where historical awareness and knowledge is indispensable.”
With all this historical peer pressure, the contemporary spirit was everywhere. At an evening talk session, it was not a Japanese artist – but Hong Kong based Pak Sheung Chuen – who summed up best the aspirations of a contemporary artist unapologetic about his break with the past. “Real art,” to paraphrase his words is both deeply personal and completely of the moment. As I understood him, it’s about overcoming limitations, not being defined by them.
With that breath of fresh air, I am looking forward to day two of Art Fair Tokyo!
When I first visited some Japanese galleries at Art Basel a few years ago, a few of the gallerists I spoke with were reluctant to talk about the state of contemporary art in Japan. With traditional Japanese art still strongly rooted in modern culture and superstar contemporary artists from Yayoi Kusama to Takashi Murakami interweaving the worlds of art and fashion, it’s hard to define the clear guideposts in the Japanese art scene. One gallerist even told me, “these are great artists, just not really from Japan.”
For a better perspective on the current state of Japanese art, Project Art Lounge will be spending the next three days at Art Fair Tokyo, self acclaimed as the biggest art fair in Japan with over 150 galleries and partners. We will be talking to galleries, artists and meeting other art enthusiasts to talk about their views. After a sneak peak at yesterday’s preview, it looks like a busy three days ahead. The show runs until Sunday, March 9th. If you would like to meet up, visit the contact page and leave us a message.