Art Fair Tokyo

Most pieces follow usual tendencies, but part of the fair is used to display ancient sculptures, for a reason that was mildly understandable to me. Much kitsch, colorful, useless works; many minimal or nature-oriented attempts which were the closest i could witness to conceptual art; many works using the concept of “CHOU” (french, sic) or KAWAII (japanese).

I meet some curators, who think I am an established artist/curator, seem to fantasize about my exotism, imagining they have much to gain in being engaging with me. This attitude, though slightly irritating, advantages me: I merrily play the game.

Among the pieces I notice, some fishbones colored in fluorescent paint displayed in glass bottles. (I will later on find some quite alike at the Tokyu Hands Department Store, “creative lifestyle” must be to blame).

Two works have appealed to me for their strenght.

Masaru Iwai’s multimedia set demonstrating his hygiene-obsession.

He basically washes all types of objects. Performance, video, and photography are the three main media used. Some drawings on found footage pictures allow him to add soap foam to pre-existing situations or objects, on a scale that would probably be unreachable otherwise.

I was told that during his wedding ceremony, he publicly washed his wife. The legend deserves to be confirmed directly, but tells enough about his “artistic engagement”.

On the whole, the art fair did not bring the art of drawing forward; painting is still extremely popular (and low quality, for a large proportion of the pieces I could see).

Few drawings, but good: Art Brut influenced, obviously, demonstrating childish spontaneity. The best example would be Shiriagari Kotobuki. This 80s mangaka entered the art world in the late 90s and could expand the size of his drawings to huge ensembles (what if Christo&Jeanne-Claude had drawn inside their works?), and left the classical perfectionism of manga to express things more personally. He notably showed a very jumpy animation about the 2011 tsunami/cataclysm, which had little to do with easy political art in my opinion.

Etching was near-absent, though emotionally interesting… Paintings, overly demonstrative, either hyper-realistic or hyper-flashy. An easy (but funny) political installation which i did not document: hectic sounds produced by electric guitars, electro-magnetic vibrations being triggered by  Geiger counters pointed at small cups full of Fukushima Earth.

Last, an animation made from 16th century Ukiyo-E engravings remind me several “western” attempts to appropriate Dürer and Bruegel’s works (by making the elements of the picture move).


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