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チェックと日本の現代美術界についての感想

Berlin/New York

2012年8月10日


Far from the introverted and increasingly small Tokyo art world, Japanese contemporary art is thriving in global cities, thanks to its mobile artist populations who are leaving to go abroad or who left along time ago. Two shows involving these artists this summer deserve our attention.

First up, opening today, is the second version of THE ECHO: ALTHOUGH I AM STILL ALIVE, a new variation on the much discussed original of THE ECHO that took place at Yokohama ZAIM in Sept/Oct 2008. Once again with Kengo Kito as a core organiser, along with curator/writer Kiyohide Hayashi and artist Nobuhiko Murayama, THE ECHO presents the best of the (mainly) 1970s born generation of "Young Japanese Artists". Styles vary, but there is bound be a fair amount of the distinctively "neutral", highly aestheticised visions of everyday life and ordinary materials that distinguished the first show. Check all the details and artists here (the show runs from 10-27 August at Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, Projektraum):

http://goo.gl/h3mTi

It's Sako Kojima, of course, as the hamster on the front. Quoting the paragraph from their intro text:

"All artists – out of which 10 live and work in Berlin – share similar concerns reflected in their work in various ways. They are peers growing up in Japan at a time of oscillation between cultural heritage and the prevalent zeitgeist, of defining the Self and its position in the Here and Now, of foreign influences and changes from within, globally and locally. They also mark a break with the “superflat” aesthetics of their predecessors, and have instead established a visual language that emancipated itself from pop-culture clichés. "

Here is a link to their Facebook page, where there are photos and stories from the opening. The show has had a good reaction in Berlin:

http://www.facebook.com/the.echo2012

I considered THE ECHO a landmark show, and wrote for the catalogue that eventually appeared in 2010. The story also features in my book BEFORE AND AFTER SUPERFLAT.

For some more background on THE ECHO as an art movement from Japan, you might be interested in my essay "After the Gold Rush" (in English / Japanese) which appeared in the 2008 catalogue of THE ECHO at ZAIM in Yokohama.

http://www.art-it.asia/u/rhqiun/hM5OPpsLUrWje0vGDwo4/?lang=ja (in Jp)
or
http://www.art-it.asia/u/rhqiun/hM5OPpsLUrWje0vGDwo4/?lang=en (in Eng)

The show came in for some serious flak from critics and curators who didn't take too kindly to an artist organised show that wasn't dictated by the usual Japanese art critic/curatorial concerns. I wrote about this issue here:

http://www.art-it.asia/u/rhqiun/pGIqSw0D89Auta1bNPfQ?lang=en (+Jp)

I discuss the current Berlin scene in this blog:

http://www.art-it.asia/u/rhqiun/hCHn9Xu6LofPQ7EAiJaN

Meanwhile, in New York, writer/curator Reiko Tomii, whose PoNJa GenKon is the most important network of English language Japanese contemporary art specialists, has curated a show of eight Japanese artists, five of whom are based in New York, called VIEWS OF LIFE.

This is running still until 30 August at the Chelsea based gallery HPGRP gallery, which specialises in Japanese contemporary art.

http://hpgrpgallery.com/newyork/


Artwork by Takashi Horisaki

Here is a text about the show:

"Curated by Reiko Tomii, Views of Life presents eight Japanese artists, five based in New York and three in Japan, who cast an intent look on "life" in its many different manifestations, personal, social, or historical. In doing so, some of them also interrogate the meaning of "viewing" itself. Taken together, Views of Life showcases a wide range of emerging and promising talents, each contributing to this exhibition works that encapsulate the essence of their aesthetic and theoretical engagements with today's complex world."

I haven't seen the show, but Tomii's sharp eye and concern for the long term historical viewpoint and the subtleties of Japanese art's relation to contemporary global trends are sure to be visible in her choices. The one artist I've met and talked to before is Toru Hayashi, a former associate of Yukinori Yanagi, with whom Tomii has also been associated in the past as a writer.

At the same time, Tomii has been organising events in the US to raise new funds to put on an American career retrospective with catalogue, etc, of the absurdly overlooked (internationally) Japanese neo-dadaist pioneer Ushio Shinohara. The show, that will be called SHINOHARA POPS! THE AVANT-GARDE ROAD TOKYO/NEW YORK, opens at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, in New Paltz, upstate New York, and runs from 22 Aug to 16 December this year. More information (in Jp) can be found here:

http://d.hatena.ne.jp/niigata-art226/20120406/1333702237

Those interested in helping or knowing more can contact the project via this address: Shinohara.Pops@gmail.com

ADRIAN FAVELL
http://www.adrianfavell.com

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