Art Fair Tokyo, is a very ambitious project to “Change the situation and open up the art market” in Japan. Held at the Tokyo International Forum everything was bilingual and looked very visitor friendly- so I was quite shocked, when I got asked to fill out a form with my name, address, telephone number, profession…… before I was allowed to purchase a ticket for the fair. Security purpose? Come on! Don’t tell me, that if I wanted to do anything bad, a fill out form would keep me from doing that! Don’t enhance fear and mistrust in this still greatly functioning Japanese society, that is entirely built on trust!!! If you replace the trust by fear- then you start to create a problem! So unfortunately a minus point on “entering exhibition”.
Since the idea of the Art Fair was to gather all kinds of galleries to present a different spectrum of art- there were only a few things, that really got me interested in. Next to traditional crafts and things like kimono, pottery, antiques… one could also find weird stuff and very questionable art (how did this bird manage to get in here? I have no idea!) Then of course all the big Japanese artists were there: Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, Aya Takano and Tomoko Konoike, who is one of my favourites. My idea for the Art Fair Tokyo, however, was to hunt for things I had not seen anywhere before and: I found some treasures! Look at this hammerhead mapped all over with brand names. Esthetics somewhere between air plane and formula one racing car, this highly polished animal got me! Titled “Human’s Won Evo2 SPVA019″, this artwork was created by Showichi Kaneda presented by Beijing Tokyo Art Projects. Art Beatus Gallery was a further Chinese gallery showing interesting works. Amongst those “deja vu- superego” from Francis Wong, was an interesting mixed media piece. “World’s Famous Brands” by the Luo Brothers fusioned traditional Chinese drawings with big corporate brand products in a billboard style tryptic- both artworks revealing a cynical, critical view at the strong economic changes happening in China.
“Noodle Boy” from Ryoich Majima (Capsule gallery) made me laugh a lot. This punk sitting in a big Ra-men bowl watching TV was just to the point! Bathing in Noodle-soup slurping away, while being entertained- a very suitable pinch here on Japanese male youth culture.
Dutch artist Mariette van der Ven shocked and touched with her delicate, extremely detailed porcelain figures expressing extreme loneliness and helplessness (Yoshiko Matsumoto Gallery).
Last but best was finding the cubicle of the Mori Yu Gallery. Personally, I would consider this Kyoto based gallery as one of the very best contemporary galleries in Japan. Besides featuring Italy’s Studio Azurro, they represent Hidenori Kitamura, Tomoko Jindo and highly recommended collaborative Paramodel. Using blue plastic model-train racks, this group creates huge landscapes- beautifully shaped installations and patterns (I had a look at their portfolio chatting to Yuichi Mori: very impressive!).