Posted:Jan 31, 2010

Contemporary Art Galleries in Tokyo: The Next Generation

The Tokyo gallery scene is gradually maturing.

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.

Also, Megumi Ogita, formerly of Nishimura Gallery, now has a space of its own, the Megumi Ogita Gallery in Ginza.

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.

Martina Gahn

Martina Gahn

Hailing from Long Island, NY, Martina Gahn has been in a love-hate relationship with Tokyo since 2002. Having dabbled as a mixer of drinks, instructor of the English language and editor of verbosity, she is now working on a book about railway gropers. She has an affinity for spoonerisms, shoes, Deleuze, and Weezer, and in her free time likes to walk her pugs Hil & Loh through the various business districts of Tokyo. Martina, who loves all things Art (from the Greeks to the hedge funds), hopes to relay what lies beyond the sex, lies, and youtube links of the art industry. If you have any art news or gossip that you would like to see Martina nitpick on TABlog, email her at martina [at] tokyoartbeat [dot] com.