Tokyo Art Beat, a rare source of information in English about what is happening on the Japanese art scene, has produced a review of art events and news in Tokyo in 2008. Here is a summary of some of the changes.
Last year for art fair Art@Agnes
Art@Agnes, a compact art fair with just 33 galleries and 2500 visitors, held every January at the luxury Agnes Hotel and Apartments in Iidabashi is to close in 2010.
Citing that it has achieved its goal of establishing a new and fresh art fair in Tokyo, the Art@Agnes committee have declared 2009’s edition of the event to be the last, with plans for it to evolve into a new, as yet unspecified event in 2010.
A new art district is potentially developing in Bakurocho
Two galleries formerly located in Roppongi have relocated to the blue-collar neighbourhood of Bakurocho in East Tokyo, where they join a handful of spaces that were already there. Taro Nasu Gallery now occupies the same building as Foil Gallery and Roentgenwerke (now renamed Radi-um) finds itself next door to CASHI Contemporary Art. With spaces such as Makii Masaru Fine Art, Motus Fort and Parabolica Bis also already in Bakurocho, the neighbourhood is now something of a fledgling gallery district. Should more spaces open there over the next couple of years, Tokyo’s art scene could conceivably find itself grasping its holy grail: a relatively dense, walkable centre of commercial contemporary galleries.
Tokyo’s first art week
The first week of April was a flurry of art world activity: Tokyo was taken over by art fairs, art awards and numerous gallery openings for what was effectively the first Tokyo Art Week.
Tokyo Art Fair was joined by the inaugural edition of the 101 Tokyo Contemporary Art fair
Created by Julia Barnes of nonaca/Nakaochiai Gallery, Kosuke Fujitaka of Tokyo Art Beat/NY Art Beat and independent curators Agatha Wara and Antonin Gaultier, 101Tokyo aimed to be the antidote to the domesticity and conservatism of Art Fair Tokyo by featuring 28 young galleries – 14 from Japan and 14 from abroad – and injecting a sense of fun and unpredictability into Tokyo’s art market with a lively program of talks, performances, awards and parties.
New art guides
Such a period of heightened activity was ideal for the launch of two new guides to the city’s art scene. After many months of intensive collaboration with Craig Mod of Chin Music Press, I published Art Space Tokyo, a 272-page guide to 12 of the city’s most architecturally and historically distinctive galleries and museums . Tokyo Art Beat released the Tokyo Art Map, a bimonthly, bilingual mini-guide to exhibitions taking place in key art areas around Tokyo.