Tobin Ohashi gallerist Robert Tobin rounds up 5 Tokyo art trends in honour of Art Radar‘s fifth birthday.
Art Radar turned five in July 2013, and to celebrate we’re bringing you a series of top 5s from artists and arts practitioners across Asia. First up is Japan-based gallerist Robert Tobin, with the top 5 trends happening right now in Tokyo and beyond.Robert Tobin is co-founder and co-director of the Tobin Ohashi Gallery, Roppongi, Tokyo. The appointment-only gallery hosts collectors’ tours and informal meet and greets, as well as exhibitions featuring a range of contemporary art works, from sculpture and ceramics to large-scale paintings and installations of psychedelic skateboards.
Robert gave us an insight into the top 5 art trends happening in Tokyo and beyond in 2013, in celebration of Art Radar’s fifth birthday.
Japan’s art market reaches out to Asia
It took a while, but Japanese gallerists, artists and auction houses have finally recognised that the local Asian market has just as much potential as Europe and the United States. Auction houses went first, maybe recognising that the market was limited in Japan (they followed the car companies in this respect). The galleries are there now too, with several opening branches in Hong Kong and Singapore. Tomio Koyama Gallery, Mizuma Gallery and Ota Fine Arts are among the galleries that opened this past year in Singapore. In our gallery, many weeks we ship more to Hong Kong and Singapore than anywhere else. Our ceramic artist, Ryota Aoki has shows in Taipei and Korea, in addition to his shows with us [in Tokyo] and in New York and Paris.
Blurring of borders between techniques
There’s always been mixed media, but it’s increasingly difficult to classify some works. One of our artists, Takako Sato, “prints” single edition works with a squeegee and spreads the ink over a screen that transfers to paper. She calls them prints, but others call them paintings. Ono Kouseki drops ink through a screen hundreds of times creating thousands of columns of ink that he then glues to natural objects like dead insects and goat skulls. He calls them prints, others call them sculptures. He was one of the finalists for the Shiseido Prize, 2009.
Collaboration between major fashion houses and artists
So many of the fashion houses now have art spaces. Here in Tokyo, Louis Vuitton and Hermes, among others, have art spaces, and often commission works for these spaces. Louis Vuitton collaborated with Takashi Murakami who produced paintings and prints using the LV [Louis Vuitton] logo, and with Yayoi Kusama on clothing and bags.
Chanel was one of the first supporters of the nonprofit Dans Dans in Japan, which also held an exhibition in the Bulgari building. What do I think of it? I love it. It introduces art to a much larger audience, and is likely to stimulate interest in the artist’s work. It vaults artists on to a much larger stage. Art Radar wrote about the Yayoi Kusama collaboration in 2012. Now, Louis Vuitton is collaborating with Indonesian artist, Eko Nugruho on several clothing items.
Indonesia taking a permanent position on the global art stage
Ever since artists like [Nyoman] Masriadi and Yunizar sold for record amounts at auctions in Hong Kong, the art market has been taking greater notice of Indonesia. But these high fliers are just the tip of the iceberg. There is an incredible plethora of talent there, much of it still to be discovered. There are some galleries in the US, Europe, Singapore and Japan promoting Indonesian artists. The prices are still very reasonable compared to China and the US, and the artists are also represented by some excellent galleries in Bali and Jakarta. At the last Art Stage in Singapore, the organisers offered a trip to Indonesian artist studios for major collectors. Three of my favourites are painters Agus Bagul Purnomo, Dodit Artawan and photographer Hengki Koentjoro.
Internet sales jump, internet sites proliferate, consolidate
Ocula, Art Radar, Blouin ARTINFO, Artspace, artnet, artsy and more. There is big money here: many of these sites, such as auction sites Paddle 8 and Auctionata, are funded by wealthy investors and venture capitalists. Clients can learn about art, purchase art online and they can even participate in auctions online. There has already been consolidation: VIP art has merged with Artspace, which I consider one of the most professional. And at the low end, there have been some problems. 20×200.com has temporarily suspended operations due to disagreements over strategy between the director and the funders. Is it the death of galleries as we know it? I don’t think so. Galleries can properly curate, display, present and discuss the art and we can work with the internet sites. We also offer works via Artspace and artnet, and are able to reach a much wider audience of collectors.
Robert Tobin is cofounder and director of Tobin Ohashi Gallery and Professor Emeritus of Keio University.
- Four influential women on the Asian art scene – June 2013 – four women, including Yayoi Kusama, are calling the shots in art across Asia
- 10 exhibitions in Tokyo in April, May 2013 – Tokyo Art Beat – April 2013 – Tokyo Art Beat blogger picked out ten art exhibitions taking place in and around Tokyo during April and May 2013
- Artspace magazine: The future of art marketing? – March 2013 – Artspace.com tap into the “storytailing” marketing trend with new online magazine
- Hermès, Hiroshi Sugimoto collaboration results in wearable art photography – August 2012 – Hiroshi Sugimoto and French luxury fashion brand Hermès collaborate to produce “Colours of Shadow” – a wearable art photography
- Tour new Tokyo art and design district – The Japan Times – September 2011 – The Japan Times takes a tour of Tokyo’s art district that has sprung up in Nihonbashi
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