Posted:Jan 26, 2011

Year in Review: 2010

We look back at the major developments of the past year.


The year started with Megumi Ogita moving to a much larger basement space on the edge of Ginza. Thankfully they kept their characterful closet-sized gallery as a showcase for younger artists.

Meanwhile, the newly re-named Tobin Ohashi Gallery headed to Bakurocho, keeping with the trend of things in Tokyo moving eastwards.

Misa Shin stepped down from heading Art Fair Tokyo and opened her new eponymous gallery in Shirokane, a stone’s throw from the Yamamoto Gendai and Nanzuka Underground building. Her inaugural exhibition was a glitzy Ai Weiwei installation.

Ai Weiwei, 'Cube Light' at Misa Shin Gallery.
Ai Weiwei, 'Cube Light' at Misa Shin Gallery.
Photo: William Andrews

The other major new venue was 3331 Arts Chiyoda, opening as a permanent arts community centre, also in the east of Tokyo. The place was famously the site of 101Tokyo’s first edition and is a former school building. It now hosts multiple micro shows in each of the classrooms and the occasional large-scale event.

It wasn’t all good news, though; like last year we had some closures. These included Art Jam and magical, artroom at the start of 2010, and Nakaochiai more recently.


What to say of a whole twelve months of shows?

Some of the highlights of the calendar include a blockbuster at Mori, “Sensing Nature” (photo report by Maurizio Mucciola), and some hits for SCAI the Bathhouse were a solo show by Kohei Nawa (photo report by Maurizio Mucciola), major international artists like William Egglestone, Anish Kapoor and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, as well as a comeback for Tatsuo Miyajima.

Tokujin Yoshioka, 'Snow' (2010, 1997)
Tokujin Yoshioka, 'Snow' (2010, 1997)
Photo: Maurizio Mucciola

Motohiko Odani continued his rise, with a new solo exhibition currently at Mori and an earlier one at Maison Hermès (reviewed by Sophie Knight).

Like Odani, Mika Ninagawa had two shows this year; one took over the whole of NADiff building in Ebisu (reviewed by Alicia Tann) and another happened at Tomio Koyama in Kiyosumi Shirakawa.

“Tokyo Photo 2010” was a glamorous photography fair, again at Mori, while “Tokyo Art Meeting: Transformation” gathered a vast array of tropes, motifs and themes to do with metamorphosis.

Shahzia Sikander, 'Nemesis' (2003)
Part of 'Tokyo Art Meeting: Transformation' at Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.

Art Fairs

101Tokyo was sadly not held this year but Art Fair Tokyo of course was, and attracted more visitors than ever before (though the number of exhibitors was slightly down and some major galleries did not participate). Zine’s Mate, the art book fair, returned for a second year, this time at laid-back 3331.

Tomio Koyama at 'Art Fair Tokyo 2010'. The large sculpture 'girl' (2009) by Rieko Otake is in the foreground.
Tomio Koyama at 'Art Fair Tokyo 2010'. The large sculpture 'girl' (2009) by Rieko Otake is in the foreground.
Photo: William Andrews

A major new event appeared as well, G-Tokyo, a select and distinctly curated art fair at Mori in Roppongi. It is also confirmed for February 2011.

Sou Fujimoto at 'G-Tokyo'.
Sou Fujimoto at 'G-Tokyo'.
Photo: Willliam Andrews

Public Art

“Roppongi Art Night” was held again in all its kawaii-ness, and music and art came to the summer streets of Shibuya for “Art Re:Public Tokyo”.

My favourite example of public art this year, though, was probably the light and music installation ‘Hikari no Tokei’, at Ikebukuro’s Seibu department store.

Unusual Spaces

We’ve already mentioned 3331 but even more original was the venue for the mini art fair “Art Tengoku 2010”, a public bathhouse (sento). Fingers crossed something similar happens next year too!

William Andrews

William Andrews

William Andrews came to Japan in 2004. He first lived in Osaka, where he was a translator for Kansai Art Beat. Arriving in Tokyo in 2008, he now works as an writer, editor and translator. He writes a blog about Japanese radicalism and counterculture and one about Tokyo contemporary theatre. He is the author of Dissenting Japan: A History of Japanese Radicalism and Counterculture, from 1945 to Fukushima.