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Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond

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Posts Tagged ‘Makoto Aida’

How a long recession helped Japanese contemporary art collector, Ryutaro Takahashi

Posted by artradar on June 11, 2009


Ryutoro TakahashiJAPANESE ART COLLECTOR

 A Japanese psychiatrist, Ryutaro Takahashi, has become one of the most important collectors of Japanese contemporary art, having amassed a collection of over 1,500 pieces since 1997. And, in an inspiring story we can all take heart from today, he was able to do so largely because of Japan’s long recession. The Japan Times explains:

The late ’90s were particularly tough for dealers… because the long-running economic downturn had translated into severe funding cuts for public museums. The reason recent art is so underrepresented in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, for example, is that from 2000 to 2004 it had no acquisitions budget. Takahashi was able to snap up dozens of pieces while the nation’s museums went AWOL.

Takahashi emphasises that he did not take deliberate steps to fill the void left by underfunded institutions. So what did motivate this collector and how did he get started?

“I used to hang around Fugetsudo Cafe in Shinjuku,” he tells The Japan Times, describing the coffee shop that was a hippie Mecca during the counterculture years. “We’d hear about the happenings that Yayoi Kusama was doing in New York. She was like a star to us.”

Takahashi was not an artist himself, but the period left him with a fascination for the avant garde.

“In 1997 I saw an exhibition of new work by Kusama,” he says. “At about the same time, a show of new work by Makoto Aida was being held at Mizuma Art Gallery. So, in a short time I saw work by someone I thought was a star and also an important up- and-coming artist. That lit the spark within me.”

The spark quickly flared into a wildfire.

“Once I had bought a few I realized that if I was going to do this, I had to do it properly,” he says.

He focused on young artists from Japan, spending Saturdays roaming cutting-edge galleries: Mizuma, Ota Fine Arts, Tomio Koyama. Soon he was plowing all his resources into the project.

 

Makota Aida "A Picture of an Air Raid on New York City (War Picture Returns)" 1996

Makota Aida A Picture of an Air Raid on New York City (War Picture Returns), 1996

One of his first major purchases was Aida’s A Picture of an Air Raid on New York City (War Picture Returns), a giant screen-painting which depicts fighter planes forming an infinity symbol as they bomb New York. Since then he has bought about ten more Aida works.

Usually, big paintings by such respected artists would find their way into public collections. But not in Japan, or at least not in the past ten years in Japan. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, has just one Aida, and the five national art museums have none.

The story is similar with other 40-something artists such as Akira Yamaguchi, Hisashi Tenmyouya and Tsuyoshi Ozawa. Each has been given large-scale, midcareer retrospectives at major Tokyo venues, but none is well represented in any public collection. Takahashi’s holdings, by contrast, include several major works by each.

Read more in The Japan Times about:

  •  how Takahashi believes that Japanese art is becoming divorced from the West
  • what he plans to do with his collection and
  • where it can be seen now

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Posted in Acquisitions, Collectors, Individual, Japan, Japanese, Profiles, Recession | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Survey of Japanese photography at ICP first in US in decades

Posted by artradar on June 15, 2008


 JAPANESE PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW UNTIL SEPTEMBER 7 2008 “It was probably too much to expect the International Center of Photography to have two excellent group shows of contemporary art in a row. Not many New York museums, especially small ones, manage that regularly” says the New York Times. “Thus ‘Heavy Light: Recent Photography and Video From Japan’ is just average, or a little less”.

With some new and some familiar names, this 13 artist exhibition organized by Christopher Phillips, a curator at the center, and Noriko Fuku, an independent curator from Japan is the first large museum survey of Japanese photography in the USA in decades. 

Two noteworthy artists both dealt with conformity and divergance in humanity.

The New York Times describes Hiroh Kikai, born in 1945, as a kind of August Sander without a studio. Since 1973 he has roamed the Asakusa district of Tokyo, briefly interviewing and then taking black and white photographs of strangers who pose themselves against the blank walls of the Sensoji Temple.A morose-looking man wearing a “love and peace” T-shirt and a skull-and-cross-bones cap provides his own caption: “I’ve always wanted to be different since I was a kid, and I’ve always been knocked around for it.” 

Born in 1977, Tomoko Sawada is widely known for photo-booth and yearbook pictures of girls and young women in which, using computers and variations in hair, makeup and expression, she plays each and every character. Here Ms. Sawada is represented by two examples of her “School Days” series, which show groups of girls in their school uniforms lined up in neat rows, satirizing Japan’s homogeneity and emphasis on conformity.

Source: New York Times
Image details: Tomoko Sawada, School Days

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Posted in Japanese, Museum shows, Photography, Surveys, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »