October 25, 2023

Organized in collaboration with Art Basel, Art Week Tokyo is citywide initiative for contemporary art once again features coordinated programming across fifty leading institutions, galleries, and art spaces. This year also sees an expansion of Art Week Tokyo’s initiatives, with the curated sales platform AWT Focus making its debut alongside the popular AWT Bar, AWT Talks, and AWT Video programs. By engaging leading creators from diverse fields, these initiatives heighten Art Week Tokyo’s synergy with the city at large.

Engaging eleven institutions and thirty-nine galleries, this year’s lineup of exhibitions showcases the vibrancy and depth of the Japanese art scene, with spotlights on midcareer artists whose work is on the cusp of greater recognition outside the country. Headlining institutional exhibitions include; the first institutional survey in Tokyo of photographer Mao Ishikawa, whose documentation of life in Okinawa is a trenchant commentary on the interplay between local communities, global geopolitics, and fluid identities, at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery.

David Hockney’s first large-scale exhibition in Japan in 27 years, featuring 120 works, including monumental paintings being shown in Asia for the first time, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo.

An overview of the life of Torajiro Yamada, a businessman, tea master, and an important pioneer in the history of Japanese-Turkish relations in the late 19th century, at Watari-um.

And “Our Ecology: Toward a Planetary Living,” which assembles historic works and new commissions by Japanese and international artists responding to the environmental crisis, with participants ranging from Monira Al Qadiri and Pierre Huyghe to Yutaka Matsuzawa and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, at the Mori Art Museum.

Gallery exhibitions are headlined by shows of emerging female artists working with expanded painting practices, and a midcareer generation of artists who work outside of Tokyo and are now coming into their own, such as Kyoto-based media artist Saori Miyake, whose immersive installation of cyanotype prints and videos at Waitingroom will reflect on AI-generated images and our contemplation of landscapes in a postpandemic world. Or Arisa Kumagai’s multipart works combining photorealistic paintings of quotidian objects with short, enigmatic texts at Gallery Koyanagi.
At Snow Contemporary, you will find Yuriko Asano’s large, colorful paintings based on the artist’s fieldwork on local food cultures . Moreover, the debut of recent art school graduate Rika Minamitani’s fractured figuration at Tomio Koyama Gallery and Hagiwara Projects’ exhibition of Yoko Terauchi, whose installations made of simple materials like paper and plaster transform perceptions of space.

In addition, participating galleries will boast a strong lineup of major international talents, reflecting the long history of productive exchanges between Japanese and international art discourses. Exhibitions include; Belgian conceptual art pioneer Marcel Broodthaers at Taro Nasu, Palestinian-British multimedia artist Rosalind Nashashibi at Taka Ishii Gallery, British artist Derek Jarman at Take Ninagawa. German photographer Candida Höfer at Kotaro Nukaga and Mexican mixed-media artist Bosco Sodi at SCAI The Bathhouse.

A new curated sales platform with a historical scope, AWT Focus invites a guest curator to reassess existing narratives of modern and contemporary art through works drawn from Art Week Tokyo’s participating galleries. The inaugural edition of AWT Focus is curated by Kenjiro Hosaka, Director of the Shiga Museum of Art, Otsu. He has assembled more than 100 works by 64 Japanese and Japan-based artists under the theme “Worlds in Balance: Art in Japan from the Postwar to the Present.” Installed at the Okura Museum of Art, established in 1917 as one of Japan’s first private art museums, the exhibition explores how tensions between art and craft, abstraction and figuration, material and immaterial, and nature and technology have driven the emergence of new expression in Japan. The featured artists represent almost a century of art and visual practices in Japan. They range from artists who started their careers in the prewar period and went on to shape the course of art history in Japan—such as Jiro Yoshihara, leader of the avant-garde Gutai Art Association, founded in 1954, and Yoshishige Saito, mentor to the Mono-ha cohort of artists active from the late 1960s onward—to artists like Rikako Kawauchi and Hinako Miyabayashi, who were born in the 1990s and are developing new painting practices informed by today’s media environment.

As the guest curator of AWT Video, Chus Martínez, Head of the Institute Art Gender Nature at FHNW Academy of Art and Design Basel, has chosen 17 works by 14 artists under the theme “Woman Was the Sun.” The theme is inspired by the title of the autobiography of Japanese activist and pioneering feminist Raicho Hiratsuka, whose career spanned most of the 20th century. Ranging from video shorts to extended performance documentations, the selected works celebrate the ability to constantly transform as a necessary part of living. The participants span diverse generations and nationalities, from veterans like multimedia provocateur Okada Hiroko and photographer Eiki Mori to emerging artists Maiko Jinushi and Fuyuhiko Takata, as well as Cambodia’s Khvay Samnang, Finland’s Maija Tammi, and Charlotte Dumas of the Netherlands.

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