How the Tokyo art scene is evolving

October is the time of the year when Tokyo’s art scene most flourishes and this year was no exception. The series of art events included the largest art festival TOKYO DESIGN WEEK which was held for the 31st year, ROPPONGI ART NIGHT where Roppongi transforms into a city of art, AOSANDO ART FAIR hosted by H.P.FRANCE, “THE UNIVERSE AND ART - Princess Kaguya, Leonardo da Vinci, teamLab” exhibition at the Mori Art Museum, the recently famed artist collective Chim↑Pom’s “~So see you again tomorrow, too?~” solo exhibition and the Design Anatomy Exhibition that looked into the world through familiar objects.

40 businesses spread across the area between Aoyama-dori and Omotesando known as Aosando, along with over 40 groups of artists participated in this year’s AOSANDO ART FAIR 10th anniversary. The art fair exhibits and sells young artists’ work in hopes of spreading the joy of buying art through an easily accessible way. At H.P. DECO, the store that sells antique furniture and unique art pieces, fans of French artist Nathalie Lété gathered to see and buy exclusive pieces that have been kept in her atelier up until now.

Chim↑Pom’s latest and first Japan solo exhibition in three years titled “~So see you again tomorrow, too?~” was held in a Kabukicho Promotion Association Building planned for demolishment. The exhibition included music, live performances and talk shows, all of which were under the theme “Scrap and Build”. An elevator ride from the 1st floor to the 4th floor takes visitors straight to a trap. The floor of the center of the building is cut out in a square, similar to Gordon Matta-Clark’s work, and when one cautiously peers down, they can see through to the 1st floor. The agreement that is required to be signed upon entering the exhibition most likely includes that “Chim↑Pom will not bear any responsibility for any accidents that may occur” because of the setting of this exhibition.

Each floor featured different works including their signature stuffed rat “Super Rat”, a piece that uses blueprints of a woman named Mirai who works in Kabukicho, and a cleaning robot that paints the five rings of the Olympic symbol. On the bottom floor, the highlight of the exhibition titled “Bill Burger” is displayed. The buns of the burger are the floors that have been cut out and the furniture and clothing that were found scattered on each floor are the burger patties. In theory, the burger is filled with the 52 year history of the building which was first built in 1964.

In hopes of bringing art closer to the everyday life, retail facilities that focus on fashion and food have initiatives to support artists as well. In 2013, LUMINE began LUMINE MEETS ART, an art award to discover and support young artists, while offering an environment where customers can enjoy art. This year, the grand prize was awarded to NY-based illustrator/artist Harumi Ori, who has created a series titled “I am Here” since 2002. Her award-winning piece recreated images taken at LUMINE in the form of sculptures. From January 2017, the six prize-winning pieces including Ms. Ori’s will be exhibited around LUMINE Shinjuku, while the video piece will be on display at every LUMINE location.

From large to small, this October Tokyo was filled with various art events and the venues have seen a noticeable increase in overseas visitors within the past few years. A french man that stumbled upon Chim↑Pom’s exhibition said how he was blown away by the concept and originality. This fall, it is easy to see that the Japanese art scene is a valuable asset and possesses great potential for promoting “Cool Japan”.

1~3: Aosando Art Fair
4~5: Chim↑Pom’s solo exhibition