This month’s gallery picks require the viewer to look at their surroundings – to recognize what they are, what makes them special, to wonder how they will change, and perhaps, to even look twice because something is not as it seems.

By Luca Eandi

TOKYO ART MEETING VI: “TOKYO” – Sensing the Cultural Magma of the Metropolis


Image: Tabor Robak 20XX, 2013, Courtesy: the artist and Team Gallery

In the build up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the public focus has been largely on questions around the skyrocketing cost of hosting (recently quoted at an estimated ¥1.8 trillion) and controversial issues such as logo plagiarism, outlandish stadium designs and increased security from possible terrorist threats. The latest installment of the “Tokyo Art Meeting” series seeks to answer a different question: what is Tokyo’s cultural identity and how does it differentiate itself among other enlightened world capitals?

Acknowledging Tokyo’s initial impact onto the global artistic scene in the 1980s, the exhibition is framed by two elements that allow people to sense Tokyo anew. One presents images curated by Tokyo-based, internationally known creative figures and the other consists of new works by artists who work both in Japan and abroad, all proposing their own concept of the city.

Not restricted to conventional art, the exhibition covers a wide range of media including music, video and design, giving the viewer a sense of the possibilities that are present in the city today and putting its current identity into relief. Some of the featured artists include YMO + Akio Miyazawa, Mika Ninagawa, SUPERFLEX, Takashi Homma, Saâdane Afif, Toshiki Okada, [Mé], EBM(T), Lin Ke and Tetsuaki Matsue, along with works from the collection of Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo.

Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
Dates: November 7, 2015–February 14, 2016
Open: 10:00 am–6:00 pm, closed on Mondays (except Jan 11) and Jan 12

Cedric Delsaux: Dark Lens


Image: Dark Lens, AT-AT in Fog, Dubai, 2009 © Cédric Delsaux, via Diesel Art Gallery.

As we get used to them, the shapes and contours of fictional characters become as fully integrated into our culture as our actual surroundings. Shaking up the boundaries between fiction and reality, French photographer Cedric Delsaux pairs familiar images of modern cityscapes with equally familiar characters and vehicles from the “Star Wars” universe, to create scenes that induce a sort of “double déjà vu.” The postmodern world meets “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.”

Serving as the artist’s first-ever exhibition in Japan, and coinciding with the release of the much-awaited film, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Dark Lens” features photographs of surreal scenes such as an AT-AT Walker wandering through a thick fog by interstate overpasses, the Millennium Falcon parked amidst a Dubai construction site and two Speeder Bikes zooming under power lines. The fourteen pieces that make up the exhibit have received high praise from George Lucas himself and were released as part of a book, also titled “Dark Lens,” back in November.

Diesel Art Gallery
Dates: November 20, 2015–February 11, 2016
Open: 11:30 am–9:00 pm

18th DOMANI: The Art of Tomorrow

Since antiquity, patronage and support has been vital to young artists’ development and ability to afford training in their specialties. Since 1967, the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs has been doing their part to help promising artists make their way overseas to learn from masters of their respective disciplines. Since the late 1990s, the annual Domani exhibition has been a showcase of the achievements of the program.


Image: Keisuke Matsuoka’s “A Tree Man”, via Domani

Now in their eighteenth edition, the theme for the exhibition is “the intersection between expression and material: matter, action and data.” The conceit is that today’s artists are not limited to matter as a material for expression—actions and data are also materials with which art can be created, and perhaps are even best suited to convey modern society’s shift into expressive media. The artists featured have been pursuing their development in places such as Brazil, the US, Indonesia, Estonia, the UK, Italy, Belgium, France and more.

Making use of the rich space of the National Art Center and unrestricted by medium requirements, the twelve diverse exhibits range from painting to sculpture, textiles, mosaics, animation, video and installation. The wood engravings of guest artist Sachiko Kazama are also featured for the first time in this exhibition. Additionally, the works of trainees in the conservation and restoration field are presented.

The National Art Center, Tokyo
Dates: December 12, 2015–January 26, 2016
Open: 10:00 am–6:00 pm, 10:00 am–8:00 pm on Friday, closed Tuesday

FOSTER + PARTNERS: Architecture, Urbanism, Innovation

The Gherkin in London, the Reichstag in Berlin and Cupertino’s Apple Campus 2 are some of the contemporary architectural masterpieces created by international design studio Foster + Partners. The first exhibition to comprehensively survey the studio’s last half-century of activity, “Architecture, Urbanism, Innovation” includes models, videos, furniture, graphics, products and plans focusing on around 50 representative projects.

Founded in 1967 by architect Norman Foster, the studio has completed more than 300 projects in 45 countries. Lord Foster, also the subject of the 2010 documentary film, “How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?,” is a protégé of architect/system theorist R. Buckminster Fuller, and has been awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize, regarded as the Nobel Prize of architecture.

The exhibition, which is organized by the Mori Art Museum, highlights Foster + Partners’ organizational pursuit of themes such as “tradition and the future” as well as “humans and the environment.” Showcased are projects that have outfitted traditional structures with state-of-the-art technology, such as the Reichstag, and in the case of the under-construction Apple Campus 2, the image of sustainable architecture of the near-future is represented. The setting of the exhibition at the Sky Gallery, inside the Roppongi Hills observation deck, affords visitors panoramic views of Tokyo while stimulating curiosity about the future of the city’s own landscape.

Sky Gallery, Tokyo City View (52F, Roppongi Hills Mori Tower)
Dates: January 1–February 14, 2016
Open: 10:00 am–10:00 pm, last admission 9:30 pm

Main image: DarkLens, X-Wing & Vader, Lille, 2007 © Cédric Delsaux, via Diesel Art Gallery