Art Fair Tokyo is one of Japan’s leading and world class art shows that have definitely and significantly affected Japan’s art scene. It is one of the few art shows, according to Misa Shin, the fair’s former executive director, that have sought to bring back art into Japanese culture. This year’s event will be held on March 20 to 22 at the Tokyo International Forum.
Art Fair Tokyo was established in 1992 as the Nippon International Contemporary Art Fair. Since then, the fair has been known to have a dynamic theme as it has shifted from different art styles to another. While some critics have dubbed the fair as confusing, some would also call it exciting. This is because audiences and artists never really know what to expect from this fair. One year could be completely different from the next. An example of this back and forth rhythm was the fair’s theme in 2010, G-Tokyo. The fair’s elements of surprise and uncertainty have made it into an affair that people look forward to seeing every year.
“Usually an art fair is based on an art market, but when NICAF started, it was the other way round,” she tells The Japan Times. “The fair was intended as a tool to help create the market. In those days, because of the bubble economy, there was lots of confidence, and people thought anything was possible.”
Misa Shin also stated that the economy’s fall caused a collapse in Japan’s art market. This was because young artists were not supported, and artworks were not sustainable. Contemporary art, today, brings back the art that was once lost, but Misa Shin is highly skeptical of Japanese politicians who would rather support traditional Japanese cultures. Unless Japan’s art scene opens its doors to international art events, its market will only continue to suffer.
Photos from Japan Times and Terrada