Art What! Visual Art

Art What!: Art Week Tokyo unveils exhibition highlights for its 2022 edition

(Left) Lee Ufan, Relatum–The Arch of Versailles, 2014, stone and stainless steel. Collection of the artist. Photo Archives kamel mennour, courtesy the artist, kamel mennour, Paris, and Pace, New York. (Right) Shinro Ohtake, MON CHERI: A Self-Portrait as a Scrapped Shed, 2012, mixed media, timber, electronics, sound, steam, dimensions variable. Sound production cooperation: Masaru Hatanaka. Photo Masahito Yamamoto, © Shinro Ohtake, courtesy Take Ninagawa, Tokyo.

Tokyo’s premiere citywide initiative for contemporary, Art Week Tokyo is pleased to unveil exhibition highlights for its 2022 edition, taking place from November 3–6, 2022.

Organized in collaboration with Art Basel, Art Week Tokyo features another stellar lineup of 52 of Tokyo’s leading museums, galleries, and art spaces. The combined programming of the participating venues is a testimony to the convening power, richness, depth, and diversity of contemporary art in one of the world’s greatest cultural capitals. With all participating venues linked by special bus service during the event, Art Week Tokyo makes it easier than ever to experience the full scope of the Tokyo art scene in a concentrated period.

Landmark retrospectives for two of Japan’s most influential contemporary artists of recent decades demonstrate the rigor and excellence of the nation’s institutional programming. In Roppongi, the National Art Center, Tokyo, celebrates its 15th anniversary with a retrospective of Lee Ufan, the Korean-born philosopher and artist who spearheaded the emergence of Japan’s Mono-ha phenomenon in the late 1960s before going on to attain global stardom. Assembling over 50 works spanning from Lee’s Mono-ha period to important examples of his “From Point” and “From Line” paintings as well as new projects, such as the monumental outdoor installation Relatum—The Arch of Versailles (2014), the exhibition is Lee’s first large-scale solo show in Japan since 2005.

In Takebashi, across from the Imperial Palace, the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, reassesses the prolific career of Shinro Ohtake, who since the late 1970s has interrogated the relations between time, memory, and global consumer culture through mixed-media works and assemblages, kinetic sculptures, environmental installations, architecture, and noise music. Among the exhibition’s 500 works are the house-sized multimedia installation Mon Cheri: A Self-Portrait as a Scrapped Shed (2012), commissioned by documenta 13, as well as a new configuration of the ongoing Scrapbooks (1977–) project.

At Ginza’s Shiseido Gallery, established in 1919, group show “Tsubaki-kai 8: This New World” reflects Japan’s unique history of corporately sponsored art spaces. Launched in 1947 by Shiseido Gallery in the aftermath of World War II, the “Tsubaki-kai” series of exhibitions invites artists to participate in a multiyear, workshop-style collaborative project. Members for this iteration include Aiko Miyanaga, known for making figurative sculptures out of ephemeral naphthalene, and Futoshi Miyagi, whose videos explore issues of identity, sexuality, and colonialism in Okinawa.

Other institutional exhibitions range from a Duchamp-themed presentation of works from the Ishibashi Foundation Collection at Artizon Museum in Kyobashi to a solo show for iconic photographer Rinko Kawauchi at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery in Shinjuku.

Galleries and artist-run spaces bring a mix of star power, emerging talent, and experimental energy to Art Week Tokyo. Leading the way is Ginza’s Gallery Koyanagi, which presents photographs of historic opera houses by polymath creator Hiroshi Sugimoto, whose interests extend to exhibition making, architecture, and bunraku puppet theater, among other fields; Sugimoto’s Enoura Observatory complex, located on the coast outside Tokyo, also features in Art Week Tokyo’s VIP programming.

In Roppongi, Taro Nasu welcomes back Paris-and-Kyoto-based media artist Ryoji Ikeda for his second show with the gallery. Also a member of the groundbreaking media collective Dumb Type, Ikeda is renowned for his immersive, synesthetic lightand-sound installations. Nearby, in Higashi-Azabu, Take Ninagawa shows works from “Voix,” the latest project by avant-garde poet and interdisciplinary artist Gozo Yoshimasu. Probing the limits of language and representation, these works on paper are simultaneously literary manuscripts, performance scores, and calligraphic mixed media paintings.

Younger galleries are showcasing emerging and midcareer artists who explore the intersections between technology and perception. At Roppongi’s Piramide complex, Yutaka Kikutake Gallery hosts its first show for Yuko Mohri, whose kinetic sound environments composed of everyday materials have attracted a worldwide following, while Kotaro Nukaga inaugurates its relationship with Yuichiro Tamura, whose multimedia installations deploy mise en scène to build multilayered narratives that blur fact and fiction. In Kiyosumi-Shirakawa, Kana Kawanishi Gallery returns Hideo Anze for his third show with the gallery. Anze’s digital photographs reflect a post-internet sensibility that draws variously from social media feeds, digital camera noise effects, and GPS location data.

The wide array of exhibitions featuring overseas artists at Art Week Tokyo reflect Japan’s discerning taste for international art. Otsuka’s Misako & Rosen mounts a focused selection of historic works by Daan van Golden (1936–2017), the Dutch painter whose exploration of the overlaps between decoration and abstraction—an approach developed during a formative stay in Japan in the early 1960s—has influenced younger generations of American and European artists. Elsewhere, Gaienmae’s Maho Kubota Gallery is organizing a multivenue show of new video works and paintings by British artist Julian Opie, while Shinjuku’s Ken Nakahashi is collaborating with Galerie Jochen Hempel, Leipzig, on a paired showing of German artists from different generations, Imi Knoebel and Erik Swars, and Mitsukoshi-mae’s Taguchi Fine Art has a solo show of Christiane Löhr, the Cologne-and-Prato-based installation artist who works with organic materials such as plant stalks, tree blossoms, and seeds.

Japan’s tradition of avant-garde craft is represented by Tokyo Gallery + BTAP’s exhibition of Takahiro Kondo, who comes from a long and distinguished line of ceramicists specializing in porcelain dyeing.

As part of the expanded programming for its 2022 edition, Art Week Tokyo is introducing a new project to spotlight Japanese emerging architects by commissioning the design of a bar space at the AWT Information Center / VIP Lounge in the heart of Tokyo’s trendy Minami-Aoyama district.

This year’s inaugural commission has been awarded to Motosuke Mandai. Mandai established Mandai Architects in 2012 after spending six years at junya.ishigami+associates and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Grand Prix of the DSA Design Awards 2014 and the Judges’ Special Award of the Taipei International Design Award 2016.

Mandai’s resplendent vision for the AWT Bar is comprised of a series of curved planes, suggestive of unrolled slips of paper, that reconfigure the space into discrete but interconnected volumes. Open from 6pm to midnight during the four days of Art Week Tokyo, the bar is accessible to all holders of the AWT PASS app, which will be available to download for free from September. On the menu will be original cocktails designed in collaboration with selected artists.

Art Week Tokyo welcomes Atsuki Kikuchi as its art director. Kikuchi’s design practice spans the fields of fashion, commercial branding, editorial design, and art. He has served as art director for fashion labels minä perhonen (1995–2004) and Sally Scott (2002–) and conceived the visual identity for art institutions including the Aomori Museum of Art (2006) and the Yokohama Triennale 2008. His accolades include the Kodansha Publishing Culture Award, the Japan Package Design Award Grand Prix, the ADC Award, and the JAGDA Award. His design for the promotional materials and publication for the exhibition “Sagacho Exhibit Space, 1983–2000: Fixed-Point Observation of Contemporary Art,” held at the Museum of Modern Art, Gunma, won a Tokyo TDC Award Special Prize in 2021.

Kikuchi is responsible for designing the Art Week Tokyo logo, website, AWT PASS app, tote bags, and other promotional materials. With their crisscrossing lines and alternating colors, his designs for the Art Week Tokyo logo and website evoke the sensory stimulation of Tokyo’s streets.

Art Week Tokyo’s bilingual online talks program is once again organized by Arts Initiative Tokyo, a Tokyo-based curatorial collective and alternative educational platform. This year’s talks include a keynote lecture by Reiko Tomii, the influential New York-based independent scholar of Japanese postwar avant-garde art, and a conversation between AWT art director Atsuki Kikuchi and Kazuko Koike, one of the creatives behind the Muji brand and a pioneer of alternative art institutions in Tokyo.

In a roundtable session, artists BuBu de la Madeleine and the OK Girls will discuss the intersections between gender and technology in art, with a focus on their work with the media art collective Dumb Type. Conducted in English, a talk by critic Andrew Maerkle and AIT program director Roger McDonald will take stock of the “chiiki art” phenomenon of community-based biennale and triennale events that has shaped the Japanese art ecosystem in the past two decades. Talks will be posted on Art Week Tokyo’s website and YouTube channel starting in September.

Art Week Tokyo runs from 3rd to 6th November 2022. More information available here

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