Tokyo Gendai 2024: Celebrating Contemporary Japanese Art

Jang Koal | Borderline | Nanzuka
Jang Koal, Borderline (2024). Source: Nanzuka

The Tokyo Gendai fair, aiming to capitalize on the Japanese art market, features 69 regional and global galleries, offering audiences a chance to explore contemporary Japanese culture and discover international stars. Some major names showcased are Ai Weiwei, Robert Longo, Yusuke Asai, Manuel Ocampo, and Kishio Suga.

Taking place at the Pacifico Yokohama convention center from through July 7, the fair is a great introduction to the art scene in Japan. Its name “Gendai” means contemporary in Japanese. Contemporary artists explore new themes using diverse materials like wood, stone, rope, glass, and textiles across performance art, sculpture, video, and installations.

The 2024 edition includes four curated programs: Art Talks; an exhibition titled Tsubomi (Flower Bud), which showcases works relating to current social and environmental issues; Sato (Meadow), featuring large-scale, tailored installations; and Ne (Root), where several prominent regional foundations showcase their work.

The Eda section features nine galleries, including PYO Gallery, presenting the works of Kim Tschang-yeul; and VETA by Fer Francés, which presents paintings by Manuel Ocampo that explore the theme of colonial and religious imagery in a provocative way.

An exhibition held by ANOMALY presents the works of two Japanese artists, Yusuke Asai and Keisuke Tanaka, under their theme of “More Than Human.” The use in the artists’ artwork is everyday material such as soil, water, dust, and lumber.

One of Japan’s leading glass artists, Kyoto-based Niyoko Ikuta’s sculptures, along with Kan Yasuda, Ken Mihara, and Masaaki Yonemoto’s pieces, are presented by A Lighthouse Called Kanata Galleries. One of the exhibited pieces by Ikuta, called Ku-139, part of the artist’s “Ku” series, is an intricate sculpture made up of several dozen hand-cut sheets of glass in an undulating, curved shape that appears differently from every angle, defying expectations of what a glass sculpture can look like.

Pace participates in Tokyo Gendai with a solo presentation devoted to Robert Longo, showcasing his newer pieces such as his untitled charcoal drawings inspired by Bernini’s “The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa” and Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” Longo is well known for his large-scale and hyper-realistic charcoal drawings, and several of his charcoal works that relate to Tokyo’s natural beauty and serenity are showcased in Tokyo Gendai.

Other fair highlights include Tang Contemporary Art’s (Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, Bangkok) presentation of zodiac animals made out of Lego bricks by renowned Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei, who is famous for his conceptual artworks that challenge authoritarian systems and have recently completed a successful exhibition in Kunsthal Rotterdam.

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