Sunday, November 30, 2008


The word crisis has made an international career and allegedly ended Chinese contemporary art boom. On Nov sales at Christie's HK only 52% of Chinese and 40% Korean were sold compared to 66% of the works by Japanese artists. Is it time for Japanese contemporary art now or just a temporary turn of collectors' attention in the times when the economy is low?

Tetsuya Ishida, Untitled, oil on canvas, 2001

The strongest performing Japanese artist was Tetsuya Ishida, a painter (died at 31 in 2005 in the train accident) depecting Japanese youths and their conditions of life in response to society and technology's expectation upon them.

photo: Christie's

Hiroyuki Matsuura
, Kingyo-hime, acrilic on canvas, 2008

Another artist who was selling well was Hiroyuki Matsuura who depictes a fantastical universe in which Japanese often immerse when the real world is too disappointing. The digital realm and its characters provide solace and companionship. Here the Princess Goldfish inspired by Takashima Kazusa anime where a goldfish turns into a woman for one night to thank a boy for saving her.

photo: Christie's

Monday, November 24, 2008

onnanoko shashinka

Acclaimed as one of the most popular photographer in Japan (her photobooks are bestsellers), promoted by Tomio Koyama gallery which brought on international art scene such artists as Murakami or Nara, director whose film Sakurana made it to Berlin Film Festival has now her retrospective show at TOCAG.

Mika Ninagawa is often descibed as second generation onnanoko shasinka (girlie photographers)* but her style has not much to do with it as her photographs are carefully composed, technically advanced and most of them lack of snapshot aesthetic. I like the comparison Gary McLeod made in his review saying that walking through this exhibition feels like flipping through the pages of a glossy magazine.
Mika Ninagawa, Smart girls vol.7, Hoshiko, C-print
Since her photos are well secured from free cirulation as befits an advertising professional for further reference check her official web at
* dozen of Japanese female photographers whose work was largely characterized by low-tech, out-of-focused snap shoots of their daily lives. To find their place in male dominated society of photographers most of the pictures were bra-and-panties type but ever since their success in early 90s their style has evolved.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

humour in Japanese art

Iichiro Tanaka is an upcoming Japanese artist who employes humor into his ceation. Cunning, a bit peculiar and achived with very simple means. Here two of his works as examples.

Iichiro Tanaka, Drop-eyed Daruma, 2002, mixed media
First one presents Daruma, a wish doll which has a face with a mustache and beard but without eyes. One eye is painted on while making a wish, the other when the has come true fills in a single circular eye while thinking of a wish.

Iichiro Tanaka, classical music karaoke, 2006, DVD 11.5min.

The other explores fenomena of karaoke in which the greatest classical music masterpieces has been converted into 'hummable' nonsense momoslyllabes allowing visitors to sing along.

photos from

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Japan at 53. Venice Biennale

Miwa Yanagi will represent Japan at 53. Venice Biennale next year. The working title of her piece is Strolling Party: The Old Young Women Theatre Company. Japan Pavilion has been designed by Takamasa Yoshizaka (photos below after Japan Foundation)

Speaking of Venice Biennale this is how the last decade looked like:

Rei Naito
Tatsuo Miyajima, "Revive Time" Kaki Tree
Project Executive Committee
Naoya Hatakeyama, Masato Nakamura,
Yukio Fujimoto
Yutaka Sone, Motohiko Odani
Miyako Ishiuchi
52. 2007
Masao Okabe

Japanese artists at Yokohama Triennale

The recent edition of Yokohama Triennale unusually features less Japanese artists than previous ones. On top of that out of 10 or so Japanese artist some are better known abroad (Yoko Ono, Ei Ararakawa who got New Museum award this year, Aki Sasamoto or Naito Rei who asked the viewers on 47. Venice Biennale to queue to see her artwork). Some other as Teshigawara Saburo and Tanaka Min come outside the artworld. The rest have been already shining brightly on the Japanese art sky. Here are some photos of the exhibited artworks.

Chelfitsh, Free time, 2008 performance at Cafe DeLuxe 18.03.08

A para-theatrical group established in 1997 by Okada Toshiki who uses in his performances what he calls super-real Japanese which are dialogues composed from modern language of young people.

Nakaya Fujiko, Fog sculture, 2008

Ohmaki Shinji, Memorial Rebith, performance 2008
If anyone entering the art gallery have ever thought about destroying an artwork he should definately experiance Ohmaki art as it often allows that. The recent work for triennali is not that spectacular in this sense as one of the previous - Echoes (2005) - when he let the viewers trodded upon floral patterns on the gallery floor making them more blur and blur until they disappaered.

Naito Rei, untitled (matrix), 2008
At Yokohama Triennale she displayed in the traditional japanese tea house one of her ethereal installation where the wire attached to the ceiling dances being heated.

scan of Naoya Hatakeyama photo