Thursday, April 29, 2010

architecture: Atelier Bow-Wow

On April 29th National Museum of Modern Art (MOMAT), Tokyo opened an exhibition on Japanese contemporary architecture. Atelier Bow Wow inspired by Barbara Hepworth sculptures completely redesigned the museum’s front lawn to function as a summer house (details here). Quite recently I had a chance to interview Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, one of the partners of Bow-Wow. Here is small part of it:

M.R.: Is context imporatant to architecture?
Y.T.: Building itself is tiny compared to the world. Without context architecture cannot perform. Lets take pet architecture. Before its creation there are always other interventions or transformations which produce tiny, strange leftover space in the city fabric. And because of scarce of the land and the desire to use it to maximum this leftover space produces such small buildings.

: Talking pet architecture. Have you ever been trying to look for it outside Japan and is your practice limited to Japan or is it universal?
: Our work is not universal, is glocal [laugh]. It could be anywere but it is always local.

M.R.: Are you interested in architecure fashions?
Y.T.: No, any. I'm more interested in the history of architecture.

M.R.: Is there any architect that inspires you?
Y.T.: Enric Miralles, Rem Koolhaas but there are many interesting people and ongoing social intervention projects in Latin America where space becomes a very powerful tool to reform society.

M.R.: Your work is not to be compared to any other Japanese architect. Don't you feel like outsiders?
Y.T.: I think that in 10 yrs people will realize that it's the right way to think about architecture.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Desire to change, to become someone else, to transform is not new to the world and artists fond of transformation can be found all over the world. In Japan, Cindy Sherman older brother is Yasumasa Morimura whose retrospective runs through April in Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.

Yasumasa Morimura, To My Little Sister: for Cindy Sherman, 1998

For the exhibition Morimura deconstructs famous news images and portraits and reenacts them with himself disguised as the subject(s) bringing them yet again into the light.

Yasumasa Morimura
, A Requiem: Vietnam war 1968 -91, 1991, gelatin silver print

Yasumasa Morimura, A requiem: Laugh at the Dictator, 2008, video

exhibition: O Jun

O Jun, 3m, 2006, gouache
I went to see Artist File 2010 in NACT lured by strangely seductive picture on the poster.
O Jun works are a nice break from what one of the non-Japanese curator based in Tokyo calls salarymen of art. He depicts everyday objects, people and landscapes simplified to nearly a graphic abstraction as opposed to overloaded, meticulously crafted or infantile works of others. O Jun says his motifs could be anything that jumps into his eyes or ears while walking down the streets, reading newspapers or watching TV which makes me think of my home country artist Sasnal whose thinking and feeling is pretty much the same and whose works have been recently presented at Rat Hole Gallery.

photo: Mizuma Gallery

Sunday, April 11, 2010

art fair report

Although its contemporary art market is considered small in relation to the country's overall economy, Japan has no shortage of commercial art fairs.

Art Fair Tokyo
The biggest art fair in Japan launched in 2005. This year in its 5th edition presented 138 exhibitors. Although the number of participating galleries decreased slightly from 143 in 2009 the crowd has been getting bigger from year to year and this time I had to queue to enter. There was the noticeable absence of galleries like Mizuma, Wako Works of Art and SCAI THE BATHHOUSE. Otherwise than that it was business as usual: hundreds of booths, featuring everything from antiques to contemporary art.
This year edition had a special section devoted to new galleries of contemporary art called 'Projects' presenting some new entries into the art world.

photo: William Andrews

Launched in the beginning of this year and held on the 52nd floor of the Mori Tower. This 'boutique' art fair hosted only 15 galleries. The limited number of exhibitors and vast space with high ceilings made the viewing experience easier. All 15 participating galleries recorded sales by the end of the fair's run. Mizuma gallery representative said that they sold almost all of the works within the first 10 minutes of opening!

photo: William Andrews

Art Fair Free
An art fair that one could exchange artists' works for anything but money. The swap takes place if the artist finds the client offer interesting. The mechanism goes as follows: if you find work you want, you can send your proposal to artists through the email. Artist selects one of the proposals and then the trade is completed. There were 55 artists participating.

This year on the alternative art fair end there was 101Tokyo missing and Art@Agnes on the other end.