Summer Art Adventure

Living in a metropolitan city like Tokyo can be a chore with so many interesting things to see and so little time to see them all. What to do? Make a list and check it twice. Write it in your blog so you can check it whenever you like. Go with friends and double your fun. What is on my To Do list for August?

Photo: Arthur Huang

We have to support friends of friends, right? I first saw Arthur Huang’s Memory Walk multimedia drawings as part of the Art Byte Critique group show at the Hagiso gallery in Yanaka, Tokyo. They intrigued me then and still do. His show runs from August 18 to August 24. Details are on his site.

Roppongi seems to be a bed of activity this summer. An art adventurer appreciates a centralized location to efficiently use time. Some are at large museums and can be costly; some are at private galleries and are free; some things are not really art but sound like fun.

CEC3-620Ballets Russes- The Art of Costume at the National Art Center promises to be a beautiful show. With revolution in Russia at the start of the 20th century, many Russian artists, dancers, and other talented people fled to Paris. Many artists such as Marie Laurencin and Sonia Delauney were commissioned to make costumes and sets for ballet troupes in Paris. The Ballets Russes commissioned Picasso, Matisse, and Chanel among others with so much talent and notoriety that they are known only by one name to this day. This was also a time of change with new technology and many new art movements. Art Nouveau, Cubism, Impressionism, and Post-impressionism are sure to have left their mark on these costumes. Yes, it might be a crowd-pleaser and not a hip, deeply conceptual show but it will definitely be beautiful and a pleasure to see, as long as the crowds are not too bad. I have faith in the Art Center though and expect wide enough spaces to easily manoeuvre in. Easy access is also a good thing when you do not want to spend a long time walking in the heat searching for the gallery. Tokyo Art Beat says the show is free, but I think that is an error. The National Art Center’s website says it costs 1500 yen.

Nellie by Fiona Tan

Fiona Tan seems to be everywhere in Tokyo this summer. She has work in a show at the Mori, video at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, and photos at the Wako Works of Art. It is an installation of moving images. Maybe this will be a video installation that excites and interests me? I hope so. The installation tells the story of Rembrandt’s daughter Cornelia, nicknamed Nellie. Nellie was born in the Netherlands but later moved to and eventually died in Indonesia. Fiona Tan was born in Indonesia and now lives in the Netherlands. This show is free.

Another event that is happening in the Roppongi area but is not related to art is GODZILLA! Yes, that’s right. To promote the new film, a large Godzilla has been installed at Midtown. A light show is even promised between 7:00-9:00 p.m. Bacardi is also running a summer cafe with mojitos. Does it get any better?

Another show in the area but actually a short walk away in Motoazabu is the Lee U-Fan show at the Kaikai Kiki Gallery. Lee is giving a lecture on August 9. He is a major figure in the Japanese art world. The infamous Takashi Murakami was also involved with organizing the show. This will be a chance to learn about the Monoha movement. Uh, oh! The show ends of August 21, so we have to go earlier than expected! This gallery is a bit of a nuisance to get to but it is quite a large space and has many timely and interesting shows. They also schedule talks and other special events to coincide with their shows. I really have to be better at keeping an eye on this place. By the way, it is also free! this means that so far only the mojitos and trains cost anything.


One more on my list is the art aquarium in the Nihonbashi part of Tokyo. I have been advised that the crowds are smaller in the afternoon, but night sounds more exciting! They have DJs and cocktails at night. This goes on until September 23, so I have more time to go. I can even go several times if I wish. This, however, costs 1000 yen. They cannot all be free, right?

The remaining item on my list is not in Tokyo but in Yokohama. That’s right! The Yokohama Triennale. It seems like there is always a biennale or triennale happening somewhere in Japan, but everybody promises me this one is great. Some of us were hoping to go on August 28 and add something to the Art Bin, an installation by British artist Michael Landy, but I see that we have to apply for it. (You have to apply for just about everything in Japan’s art world.) They supposedly tell you when you can bring your art to add to the bin. Advance tickets are 2000 yen and 2400 yen at the door.

Looks like it will be a busy summer!



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