It seems like everyone does it at this time of the year: The Year’s Top 10 or This Year in Movies or Art or Music.
I’m tempted to follow suit, but not because everyone does it, but because I think it might be therapeutic or cathartic to look back on this year at our Tokyo art gallery and write down some of what happened. It might help people understand more of what we do, as well as help me take stock of what happened–at least some of what happened.
This was a year of many changes at Asian Collection. Here are some of them.
1. The focus of our gallery has shifted to include more painters from Japan. When Hitoshi and I started the gallery 4 1/2 years ago [in our home], we primarily worked with print artists from Thailand and Japan.
Now, the focus has shifted to painters, primarily from Japan with other Asian countries also represented. This increased focus on Japan comes from the requests from our clients and our own interests and change in our travels. [I once worked 4-6 months out of the year in Thailand.]
I love prints, but it seems many clients prefer paintings to prints. Our print inventory is shrinking as we obtain more paintings to show our clients. We will continue to carry some prints.In some cases, when we love the work or the paintings are beyond the usual prices for our works, we are offering the artist’s prints. Examples: Zhu Wei, James Siena.
We also want to do something for the local art community. As we met more young Japanese artists, we discovered great talent here that is not known-not outside Japan or even inside Japan, and we thought we could be effective in championing this group of artists.
Our mission now: Promote Young Japanese Artists Worldwide.
2. Related to our mission, our artists have gone way beyond Tokyo. They have shown in other locales in Japan and in many foreign countries. In some cases, our artists have achieved international recognition.
To begin with, Ryota Aoki, our prize-winning ceramacist[for several years, he was the top prize winner at the Japanese Tableware Association Conference], whom we have worked with for four years, was the subject of a special program on Jounetsu, the legendary TV cultural program.
We temporarily sold out of his works after this program as people searched all over the internet to find his works. He also held shows in Paris and New York and was the only artist included in the catalog for Design Tide. When we first met Ryota Aoki, he lived in a house with no toilet–he had to go to the 7-11. His house has a toilet now and four assistants.
We get inquiries from all over the world for his work and ship all over the world. Some of the requests come from other ceramacists.
Atsushi Takahashi, one of the young Japanese painters we work with, exhibited paintings in group shows in Osaka and Tokyo. His work has been especially popular with younger collectors.
He created several works on commisssion and one client from Taiwan bought his work to show in model apartments. Borobudur Auction, the premier auction house of Indonesia and Singapore contacted us to obtain his work for one of their auctions and his Tomodachi Series of works sold at the high end of the auction estimate. Auction houses throughout SE Asia have expressed interest in obtaining more works from young Japanese artists.
Mario Tauchi, creator of the Flying Mandalas, was hard to find in Tokyo. Whenever we called him, he was on his way, or had just caome back from somewhere. Mario had shows in London and Amsterdam–repeat performances– where he held book signings and live shows. Mario painted on walls, accompanied by traditional Japanese drums or techno pop. He also held a live show in Ebisu and other locations in Japan.
I will write about our other artists in another post later.
3.. We continued our off-site promotions and benefits for charity. We held off-site exhibitions at the Ritz Carlton and ANA Intercontinental Hotels with works from Giang Nguyen, Truc Thanh Nguyen, and Reishi Kusaka. We were able to give these artists exposure to collectors who would not normally visit our gallery in Azabu Juban.
3. We participated in Art Osaka and showed the work from our Japanese, Thai and Indonesian Artists. It was great to show the works of artists like Ono Kouseki, Kosin Bootnam, Mario Tauchi, Agus Purnomo from Indonesia and Zhu Wei from China to people in Osaka. The fair had almost 1,000 visitors and some of our clients came in from Tokyo in order to see the show. We saw some friends there and made some new ones.
We were surprised when a Korean visitor to our exhibit knew the work by Agus Purnomo. Agus got great response there from visitors who were impressed with has abstract paintings using numbers. Agus has shown in Southeast Asia, but I believe this was the first time his work had been shown at an Art Fair.
We expect to go back to Art Osaka next summer and we are tentatively planning to show the work of Joji Shimamoto, Giang Nguyen and Ono Kouseki.