Domo Arigato to all of the visitors to the exhibition “Water Abstracts” – artworks by Berlin artist Silvia Sinha. Thanks for commenting on the tranquil beauty of these works, which mirror the Japanese aesthetic for calm (odayaka), impermanence (mujō) and the essence of minimalist order (kanso). Enjoy this recap. If you like what you see, think about adding Silvia’s works to your collection. Contact Project Art Lounge for details.
Creative collaboration is in the DNA of Hikarie 8/ – the “Shibuya style” marketplace that has become a meeting point for fans of art and design in Tokyo. Located on the 8th floor of the Shibuya Hikarie building, the panorama windows offer a great viewing spot overlooking the 3 million people who pass through busy Shibuya Station every day. It is also the perfect place to see “Water Abstracts” – an exhibition of photographic artworks by German artist Silvia Sinha. In painterly images, Silvia captures the light and flow of Berlin, which similar to Tokyo is full of energy and vitality. By depicting a city reflected in rippling bodies of water, Sinha conveys a sense of tranquility as well as the fleeting nature of the urban landscape. “Water Abstracts” – Silvia Sinha runs through Sunday, November 22nd.
Just as the Paris Photo Show opens its doors to international artists next week, Project Art Lounge is pleased to present the works of European photographer Silvia Sinha at one of Tokyo’s most innovative art and design spaces. Following an invitation-only preview earlier this year, “Water Abstracts” by Berlin based Silvia Sinha will be on display from November 19-22, 2015 at Hikarie 8 / Creative Lounge across from the busy Shibuya station.
Like Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Seascapes, Silvia Sinha takes us on a “voyage of seeing” in her series “Water Abstracts”. In photographs which the artist likens to “painting on the water’s surface” Sinha captures the ever changing light and flow (光と流) of the urban landscape.
Silvia Sinha’s recent works were featured in the European Month of Photography in 2014 in Berlin and at international exhibitions in Basel, Switzerland and Tokyo.
ベルリン拠点の写真家、Silvia Sinhaによる「Water Abstracts」シリーズでは、杉本博司の 海景と同じように、我々を「眺めの旅」に誘います。今回、Project Art Loungeが紹介する展示はSinhaの捉えた、常に変わり続ける都市風景の「光と流」というテーマです。 アーティスト自身が写真を「水面上に描くペインティング」のように捉え、都市風景をシンボルとして、陸封メトロポリスの活気を表す作品です。
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Project Art Lounge (www.projectartlounge.com)
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/.
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.
“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.”
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.”
“I don’t know what just happened.” That was Bearskis‘ reaction when Project Art Lounge introduced them to Design Festa vol. 40 at Tokyo Big Sight on November 8th. Understandable. Sprawling over two floors of Tokyo’s largest international and futuristic exhibition center, Design Festa brings together a wild and crazy assortment of creative characters. Artists, designers and performers of all types present their paintings, photographs, toys, clothes, masks, bags and all sorts of other things. Visitors, too, get into the act, many complete with outfits and costumes to emote their favorite meme. Coming on the heels of Halloween, vol. 40 was like a art fair dress-up party or Harajuku on steroids with a punk band playing on the outdoor parking lot. Design Festa cannot be compared to other contemporary art fairs, but careful observers will discover some talented young creators. The interesting thing about this fair: anything goes. First timers may be surprised and a little overwhelmed, but it’s definitely a trip worth taking. Welcome to Tokyo everybody.
Where I grew up, parents teach you: “Don’t talk to strangers.” That advice is ok if you are a wandering child on a public street. If you are sitting in the living room, though, you are most likely surrounded by friends or relations of some sort – even if you don’t know them by name. Such was the case for me yesterday in “The Living Room” project by artist Lee Mingwei at the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills.
Through January 4th, 2015 the Mori Art Museum is hosting the exhibition “Lee Mingwei and His Relations” – a series of projects involving various acts of participation under the motto “Take Part. Make Art.” After the museum invited me to host a session in the Living Room, I met with the artist Lee Mingwei and spent an afternoon in The Living Room on November 10th.
“The Living Room” was originally created for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It is a space where community members are invited to tell stories about their own personal collections and share conversation with visitors, just as Mrs. Gardner might have done in her own art-filled living room. As living with art is a major part of life for me and my partner, and as a member of MAMC, I was delighted at this opportunity.
For Lee Mingwei and visitors, I recounted how the Mori Arts Museum has become a kind of living room for me – a place to enjoy art and meet other art enthusiasts. Living far away from “home” and unable to bring my art to the museum, I shared a collection of my impressions about moving to Tokyo, interacting with artists and how living with art has changed my life since curating the exhibition LIGHT BREAKS last year.
When I visited the Living Room a day earlier, I sat in the beautiful wooden chair that belonged to Lee Mingwei’s grandmother. A glass of water was offered to me and I thought about what stories I might share while staring at the skyline of Tokyo and listening to Lee Mingwei’s voice in the background, where he was having a conversation. I saw my reflection in the window and thought about my Uncle Arthur who had a portrait of himself hanging above his fireplace. I only met Arthur and his partner of 60+ years late in his life when he was 90 years old, and listened to stories about Arthur’s and Walter’s Glass and Wedgwood collection in his living room over the first gin martini I had ever had. If they were still here today, I would share with them my fascination with art how it has enriched my life.
Even in the comfort of The Living Room, engaging others in conversation wasn’t easy. Upon hearing me speak English, many Japanese visitors shied away, perhaps feeling a bit uncomfortable with their own English skills. The language barrier is still quite difficult to overcome in Japan, and while I am learning Japanese, I am not yet fluent enough to engage a native speaker. Perhaps the bravest visitor, though, was a Japanese girl who didn’t say a word. She simply came over and handed me a flower from Lee Mingwei’s “Moving Garden.” With the city view in the background, this “unexpected encounter” with a stranger was clearly a spontaneous act of courage for her and I could see the reflection of her fanning her reddened face as she left The Living Room.
Most of the visitors with whom I spoke in The Living Room were tourists visiting Japan for the first time. Many were eager to share impressions about people in Japan and hear about the places I have visited. I brought along the copy of a book which I had received many years ago before my first trip to Japan. Entitled “Bluff Your Way in Japan,” author Robert Ainsley wrote about Japanese society in the 1980s. Many of his observations are still accurate today. About sightseeing, he encouraged visitors to deliberately bypass popular tourist attractions and observe the more commonplace wonders like the endless variety of vending machines throughout the city. I recounted that a visiting friend from Germany was so fascinated by the “Jihanki” that he returned home with hundreds of photos of them and compiled a book about it, which I brought to show. I shared the story of exploring Tokyo’s unlikely art spaces with two Living Room guests from New York, including a visit to the “container” gallery housed in a hair salon, also featuring a vending machine for art outside. I told them about Design Festa, the most unique assortment of art, design and creative expression that I have yet to experience in Japan.
Not everyone came to the Living Room to talk. Some were there to simply enjoy the gaze out the window or take a break on the comfortable sofa. A couple from Sweden was there with a small baby. While the mother went off to feed the child, I had a chance to converse with the father who was originally from Laos. I recounted that my partner and I had encountered a large community of Swedes in Ko Lanta, Thailand. We talked about the inspirations of cross-boarder experiences and I shared some of my thoughts on the exhibition “Go-Betweens” immediately preceding the Lee Mingwei exhibition at the Mori Art Museum. Among my Japanese conversation partners was a young relational artist, who spoke well about her work on the relationship between mothers and children.
Moving to Tokyo and traveling back and forth between my native homes in Switzerland, Germany and the United States has been a great adventure so far. The opportunity to explore the art world in Japan has given me new insights into the way Japan views itself and new ways for me to think about art in my life. My explorations in Japan inspire me to continue with Project Art Lounge – a sabbatical to my 20 year career in IT and digital media. Thanks to Lee Mingwei and the Mori Art Museum I now have new relations to India, London, Vancouver, Sweden, Laos, New York and Tokyo. From Art Fair Tokyo to the art sites around Naoshima to the Yokohama Triennale – and a chance to meet artist and curator Yasumasa Morimura – I have plenty of stories to bring back to my own living room conversations in the future.
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:
It’s easy to get lost in Tokyo. In this city of 13 million people, street names are rare and house numbers hard to find. With addresses a mix of district, block and house numbers, even google gets lost in translation. Knowing the name of a gallery or atelier is no guarantee that you’ll wind up at the right location. So every adventure begins by exploring. Wandering the maze of mega city and urban village you’ll find a lot of interesting places to stop along the way.
Tokyo’s art spaces are spread all over. From soho like galleries in the posh neighborhood of Omotesando to traditional art houses in Chuo-ku and international gallery spaces in the touristy commercial center of Roppongi, it takes time to discover contemporary art in Tokyo. Given the high rents, it’s no surprise that art spaces come and go. A long sought after gallery may now be a hair dresser or noodle shop. If you look a little closer, the surprise can be a pleasant one.
In Daikanyama, for example, artwork is on display in a cargo freight container turned gallery inside the Bross hair salon. Aptly called “The-Container,” solo exhibitions usually last 2-3 months. In the recent group show “Multi(Multi)ples”, the retail nature of contemporary editions was taken to an extreme with small works sold from a vending machine.
This discovery led me to look further into other contemporary art spaces today. While “white cube” galleries may still be the norm even in Tokyo, contemporary spaces like The-Container are pushing the idea further. Some galleries double as event spaces such as SuperDeluxe, while others are Cafe add-ons such as My-Cafe-My-Bar by Hiromiyoshii. Perhaps the best example of the “micro gallery” is the TANA Gallery Bookshelf, which is literally just that – a gallery on a bookshelf.
Since contemporary art is about concepts and dialogue, these new art spaces invite visitors to question and interact. This can be a daunting task for newcomers in Tokyo, however, as language barriers and a tradition of subtle communication often make it difficult to feel completely at home. Luckily, it is also an international community full of sherpas to show you the way. At the TobinOhashi Gallery, for example, Robert Tobin and Hitoshi Ohashi welcome gallery visitors right into their home, where they invite you to share their own experience in “Living with Art” over a glass of wine.
Bringing art and people together in innovative spaces is how Project Art Lounge was launched with the exhibition LIGHT BREAKS at Atelier Davidseck last year in Basel. Project Art Lounge is now at the beginning of its discovery tour in Tokyo, which began at the Art Fair Tokyo earlier this year. Along the way, we will update you on interesting people and places. If you have a recommendation to share, please leave a comment. You can also follow Project Art Lounge on twitter or Facebook.
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.