Art Fair Tokyo 2012

Following its summer re-scheduling last year, Japan’s largest art event returns to its usual spring position

poster for Art Fair Tokyo 2012

Art Fair Tokyo 2012

at Tokyo International Forum
in the Ginza, Marunouchi area
This event has ended - (2012-03-30 - 2012-04-01)

In Photo Reports by William Andrews 2012-03-30

Visitors are first greeted by Tetsuya Nakamura's '2012 Mercedes Benz Japan Art Car SLK 350', setting the tone that this is certainly a commercial event.

This year it felt more roomy at the venue, as usual, the Tokyo International Forum. The number of gallery booths, though, was still 138, around the same as in 2011.

However, there is no second space this year. In previous years the fair has featured another 'annex' either in a nearby building or on the ground floor of the International Forum, showcasing up-and-coming galleries. This meant there was a notable absence of the younger generation of art spaces, such as Take Ninagawa, Mujin-to, Nanzuka Underground and ShugoArts.

As before, some major commercial galleries did not participate, such as Mizuma Art Gallery, Wako Works of Art, Koyanagi Gallery and Misa Shin Gallery (the latter, run by the former director of Art Fair Tokyo!).
There were still plenty of big names, though, such as here, Tomio Koyama at his gallery's booth, and also Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo +BTAP and more.

Last year, the 'Shuffle' exhibition was held at the Shirokane gallery complex as a satellite event. This time it was incorporated into the fair itself, with selected artists from such venues as Nanzuka Underground, Yokoi Fine Arts, ShugoArts and Mizuma Art Gallery.
Here, Makoto Sasaki's 'YATSUKAHIGE (God of destruction and recreation)' on the left, and 'coma' by Junichi Mori on the right.

It was a darkly lit, quasi-religious exhibition, quite at odds with the main fair and its stately emporium atmosphere. Staying true to its name, 'Shuffle II' even threw ancient Jomon pottery into the mystical mix! 
Here Makoto Sasaki's 'HITOGATA ancestor's spirit', like a miniature Butoh dancer, stands next to Yuji Honburu's 'Butsu', a cardboard Buddha statue that was also exhibited in last year's fair.

In fact, several galleries featured the same artists' work as for the 2011 fair, such as Hiroo Amano, again at Tsubaki Modern Gallery.

Chiaki Kohara was drawing attention for her cosplay style and super-kawaii sculpture and paintings at the DMO Arts booth from Osaka.Another Osaka gallery, YOD Gallery, was more subdued, with this hanging installation by Hiroshi Shinno taking up their little booth.

At the S. Watanabe Color Print Co. booth, artist Shimizu Ryuhow was fun, especially her hair. Her main piece, 'mother 002', was a health-themed installation of a child inside a medical capsule, which monitored its life signs. Modeled on a real infant the artist knows, it is intended to turn everyone into the sick child's mother.

Traditional but very buyable, Holly Farrell's paintings at Megumi Ogita Gallery booth.

Multi-media and digital signage designers teamLab had a space too.

Staff at SCAI The Bathhouse's booth get their photo taken. Behind them are works from Kohei Nawa's 'Direction' series.

At Gallery Murakoshi, Kayo Sato's fluffy animals wore gas masks.

From Re-Birth Project – which was set up recently by actor Yusuke Iseya – Kisho Okunishi's 'Genkidama' was like an offerings box at a Shinto shrine, with Akira Fujimoto's '¥€$' spelling a financial 'Yes' in the background.

Yoshiyuki Ooe at the Tezukayama Gallery booth.Fumio Yamazaki's pigs from imura art gallery.

At Nishimura Gallery, 'A Silent Mirror' by Katsura Funakoshi was juxtaposed with Atsuhiko Misawa's bears.

Yamamoto Gendai brought along a large sculpture by Keisuke Tanaka, 'Kaiten'.The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art were exhibiting Chinese artists but these works by Teppei Kaneuji were at the entrance to their space.

By far the most impressive work we saw was at Snow Contemporary, where voice artist Fuyuki Yamakawa (pictured) was installing his sound exhibit, 'Atomic Guitar'. The instruments and speakers were hooked up to radiation sensors; as the level of radioactivity rises, it the sounds 'played' on the guitars change.

The measurement will be taken on soil pilfered from the grounds of the nearby Imperial Palace.Yoshio Yoshimura used a pencil to draw large portraits onto newspapers at the Mizoe Art Gallery booth.

Here is a video of a previous performance of Fuyuki Yamakawa’s ‘Atomic Guitar’ series.

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. » See other writings


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