While the world was busy with getting the most out of Black Friday, an army of all black everything fashionistas and industry insiders has gathered at Idol for the opening of ASVOFF Tokyo 2013. The brainchild of high fashion’s Queen of Spades, Diane Pernet, ASVOFF (A Shaded View on Fashion Film) is the first International Fashion Film Festival listing some of the most creative among fashion creatives as contributors. The noise has died down during a dreamy, low-key performance by KaoRi, then — went right back to its usual, top volume.
Hara family’s passion for art dates back to the current director of Hara Museum, Toshio Hara’s great-grandfather — Rokuro Hara. A prominent figure in the industrialization of Japan Rokuro Hara was an avid art collector and amassed an impressive collection of traditional East Asian art, now housed in the latest addition to Hara Museum ARC, Kankai Pavilion.
The annex of Hara Museum, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, holds what could be one of the most comprehensive private collections of contemporary art in Japan, partially on view in “Someone Like You — Selections from the Hara Museum Collection.” The theme of the exhibition, a portrait, is covered from multiple angles by a diverse cast of artists including Francesca Woodman, Sato Tokihiro, Tomoko Yoneda, Tadanori Yokoo, Max Streicher and Miranda July.
Renowned Japanese architect, Arata Isozaki, consciously downplayed appearance of the museum. Opting for semi-open design with lots of natural light, Isozaki merged the building with the surrounding landscape effectively blurring the line between interior and exterior while providing artworks on both sides of the walls with a perfectly neutral backdrop.
Just two hours’ drive from Tokyo, brisk mountain air, picturesque, particularly during Spring and Autumn, views, Hara Museum ARC is a refreshing, mind-clearing destination whether you prefer traditional, contemporary, or simply enjoy beautiful scenery.
“Someone Like You — Selections from the Hara Museum Collection” is on view through January 5th.
One of the most forward-thinking Japanese art institutions, Mori Art Museum, holds its 4th triennial showcase of contemporary Japanese art, “Roppongi Crossing.” This year’s exhibition, Roppongi Crossing 2013: OUT OF DOUBT, is an attempt to trace core value shifting effects of 3/11 on the local art scene and link them to the post-WWII Japanese avant-garde. As is often the case with Japanese art, the works tend to be trivial and overly decorative even when it comes to matters of life-and-death, nonetheless, there are still a few that punch well above their weight. Gripping Takashi Arai’s daguerreotypes, picturing the aftermaths of nuclear disasters from the first atomic test in 1945 to snapshots of Fukushima surroundings, momentous Hiroshi Nakamura’s reportage paintings, Genpei Akasegawa’s political comics and graphic Sachiko Kazama’s woodblock prints make you rethink once more the outcomes of post-Imperial Japan–U.S. alliance, while Yukinori Yanagi’s works take on the broader globalization issues.
Of course, no exhibition can answer where contemporary Japanese art is at, but as one of the curators of the exhibition, Reuben Keegan, accurately observes: “perhaps the question we should be asking is not, after all, what Japanese art is or was. Perhaps what we should be asking is what Japanese art can be. Perhaps we should be asking what Japanese art can do.” And, on a larger scale — “What can Japan be? What can Japan do?”
In the light of the ongoing Fukushima tragedy and upcoming Tokyo Olympics, with its many highly questionable decisions on the future of Tokyo, the timing of “Roppongi Crossing 2013: OUT OF DOUBT” couldn’t be better. Through January 13th.
Yuji Honbori became known for his eye-catching eco-philosophical take on traditional Buddhist art. Working only with readily available materials, the artist recreates well-known Buddhist motives from CAD-like layers of cardboard. Honbori’s solo exhibition, “Fujin Raijin,” at Nanzuka, showcases his latest works including a large scale diptych of the same name. Through November 16th.
Unlike historically prized craftsmanship and superior technical skills, contemporary art has never found much recognition in Japan and remains a getaway of a chosen few. Where Japanese artists truly excel though is the gray zone between art, craft and design. One of the forerunners of this fusion is Tokujin Yoshioka whose solo exhibition “Crystalize” has just opened at Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. The combination of artificial crystals, prisms and piles of plastic straws, presented at the show, evoke a sensation of being placed in the middle of a majestic icy landscape miles away from civilization. Through January 19th.
During its five-year run Tokyo Photo has rapidly grown into one of the key Japanese art fairs. As most things in Japan the fair is relatively small compared to the Western analogues, but its importance to the local market of fine photography can’t be underestimated. Led by the fair’s larger-than-life founder, Tomohiro Harada, co-founder, Takeshi Arthur Thornton, and a photographer in her own right, Vanessa Franklin, Tokyo Photo 2013 is a big step forward from last year’s glossy, post 3/11 everything-is-fine assortment. Excellent Yumiko Chiba Associates collection of 70s conceptual Japanese photography, Ed Ruscha’s “On the Road” at Gagosian and a special exhibition “Pictures From Moving Cars” curated by the fair’s patron, curator of photography and art at Tate Modern, Simon Baker, set the tone of this predominantly black and white affair. A new, surprisingly apt location — the city’s landmark, Zōjō-ji temple, emphasized the fair’s origin and opened the door to the newly-found identity, making the whole experience more festive. With a good record of continuously reinventing itself Tokyo Photo is well on the way to becoming a household name in the world of photography and the home base for many amazing Japanese photographers.
Keiichiro Shibuya is a curiosity. Having made a name for himself with glitchy, (un)easy listening music he enjoys recognition and commercial success of a pop star. His music can be heard anywhere from dance floors and invitation-only Louis Vuitton parties to movies, TV commercials and prestigious music halls. With his most ambitious project to date, the first ever vocaloid opera, The End, premiering this November in Paris, he’s got a good shot at becoming one of the biggest Japanese musical exports since Ryuchi Sakamoto.
We meet on a rainy gray day at the composer’s studio, located near Daikanyama T-Site which he frequently visits. Shibuya looks vulnerable, it’s been two days since the 5th anniversary of the death of his wife and muse, Maria. His studio, largely occupied by a grand piano, is clustered with boxes of his CDs and art books. Read more