The Contemporary Japanese art world used to be tagged with the unapologetic disclaimer that it was being run by a reasonably young crowd. However, as that was almost ten years ago, those forerunners aren’t so young anymore, and the same can be said about the artists they represent. As of late, there has been a solid number of second-generation galleries opening up across Tokyo.
Misako & Rosen – run by Misako and Jeffrey Rosen, whose management skills were cultivated by their experiences of working at of Tomio Koyama and Taka Ishii Gallery – opened up in the Taka Ishii Gallery’s former premises in Otsuka in late 2006.
As of July this year, the Shintomicho area of East Ginza now has Arataniurano, run by Tomoko Aratani, former director of Space Kobo & Tomo and public art organizer from Town Art, together with Mutsumi Urano, a former employee of SCAI the Bathhouse. They snagged Venice Biennale artist Izumi Kato from his former gallery and more than quadrupled his price accordingly.
Although no longer the newest kids on the block, other noteworthies of Tokyo’s young blood are Zenshi (formerly of Mizuma Art Gallery. The current show is of paintings by Shunsuke Imai, who used to work part-time at Gallery Koyanagi); Takuro Someya Contemporary Art (ex-SCAI) and the expanded takefloor 404 & 502, started by artist and former gallery worker Kazuyuki Takezaki and former NY art organizer Atsuko Ninagawa.
In a few years down the line, we might see more noteworthy drama between the galleries – incest and deformation, a higher gallery staff turnover rate, artist tug-of-wars – and screwing of small industry niceties. Let’s just hope that the expansion will give Tokyo a greater source of worthwhile art exhibitions and a contemporary art market with a real personality.