London, 2 November 2022: Art lovers still have until November 6 to catch the first UK glimpse of the new wave of contemporary art sweeping Japan at the Tokyo Colours exhibition in London’s Shoreditch. A group show organised by London-based Tokyo Park Gallery and soon to be followed by a music-driven video produced by Cornwall’s Ninjin Art, the exhibition brings together the work of SaiakuNana, Ashiya Shiguma, Mayumi Konno, Neko and TYM344, a new cadre of contemporary artists whose vision has so far remained largely unseen outside of their native Japan.
“In an art world marked by conceptualism and the avant-garde, filled with hard-to-reach meanings and audience neglection, the new generation of Japanese artists bring with them a new wave of colour and beauty accessible to all. Through the medium of painting, Tokyo Colours presents a never-before-seen alternative approach to pop: a post-superflat reaction to art,” says Tokyo Park founder and exhibition curator Martim Barroso.
“Most of these highly talented artists have never exhibited outside of East Asia before, let alone in London, so the Tokyo Colours show is something truly new and fresh,” adds award-winning animator and Ninjin Art producer Ignatius Rake. “If you think you’ve seen the best contemporary art Japan has to offer, think again. But hurry. The exhibition closes this coming Sunday.”
Tokyo Colours garners global interest
Since opening its doors this past October 28, Tokyo Colours has already whipped up keen interest among online buyers. At the same time, the response from visitors to the show has been overwhelmingly positive, with attendees awed by the range of talent, styles and techniques on display. In addition to the UK, Japan and Hong Kong, interest in the show has also come from across the Pond, with Sotheby’s in New York, for instance, reaching out to Martim to participate in its Gavel Prize competition for innovative young art business entrepreneurs.
“As well as a mutual friendship with SaiakuNana, who operated her own self-funded gallery in Shoreditch until July this year, Martim and I share a passion for modern Japanese art and we are both particularly taken by the new generation of artists working there who successfully fuse elements of contemporary Japanese popular culture with bold colours, exquisitely detailed brushwork and new approaches to visual storytelling,” Rake says. “Tokyo Colours is truly unique and a must-see for anyone with an interest in contemporary art, modern Japan or indeed both.”
In a similar vein to the show, the accompanying video will eschew staid convention while providing a permanent visual record of the Tokyo Colours exhibition and the new wave of Japanese artists showcased. “Rather than being a typical documentary, it will follow a style more akin to a music video, featuring elements of animation and a soundtrack by Hard-Drinking Peasant, a house music producer I regularly work with,” Rake reports.
Tokyo Colours will run between the hours of 10.30 am to 7 pm at Spiral Galleries located at 44a Charlotte Road, London, EC2A 3PD until Sunday, November 6. It will be followed by more Tokyo Park exhibitions showcasing further cutting-edge Japanese art over the coming months. More information can be found online here: https://www.tokyoparkgallery.com/exhibitions
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Notes to Editors
1) The winner of the Grand Prize at the 21st Taro Okamoto Awards for Contemporary Art in 2018, SaiakuNana is a punk-rocker known for making intensely pink acrylic/mixed media paintings that often incorporate uncommon materials, such as typed paper, found objects, both Japanese and English text and a recurring electric guitar-playing girl that may or may not be SaiakuNana herself. Between October 2021 and July 2022, she ran her own fully immersive and highly distinctive galley on Redchurch Street in Shoreditch.
2) Still in her early 20s, Ashiya Shiguma draws partially concepted animated women that incorporate luminous paint as well such unconventional mediums as torn cardboard and the celluloid sheets once used in vintage animations. She has a particular affection for the Golden Age of Anime of the early 2000s, as evidenced by her subject’s big rounds eyes, sharp eyelashes and colourful, flowing hair.
3) Mayumi Konno‘s recurring female protagonists wear a mysterious piercing gaze, attentively observing the viewer while surrounded by abstract violet and blue backgrounds and missing textures that combine to create an otherworldly harmony. Despite their strong resemblance to digital artworks, complete with the grey-and-white checkerboard transparent background familiar to Photoshop users worldwide, her works are actually highly detailed paintings executed exquisitely in acrylics.
4) Neko takes full advantage of his endless artistic inspiration, turning every medium and surface into paint-layered colourful works of art. A means of breaking his own isolation, his paintings feature a series of women that tease the viewer with their enigmatic smiles and alluring presences.
5) TYM344‘s work focusses on the ‘Binarization of Art’ through the use of just black paint and white. As well as items of computer code, his paintings include urban landscapes composed of street signs and advertising that are solely populated by two characters, Yuu san and Ai san, who react to their environment and their painter with emotions that are at once clearly recognisable despite the use of minimal facial detailing.
6) Born in 1997 and originally from Portugal, Tokyo Park founder Martim Barroso gained an academic background in History, Art History, Art Curation and Museological Practices at the University of Lisbon before moving to London in 2019 to pursue an MA in Art Business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Following a lecture on Asian Emerging Markets, he became increasingly focussed on Japanese contemporary art. Tokyo Colours represents his first curated exhibition and from 2023 he plans to stage further shows promoting Japan’s newest artistic talents across the UK and Europe.
7) Cornwall-based Ignatius Rake specialises in making music videos and kimo-kawaii animations. He has worked with bands, musicians and artists in the UK, Poland and Japan, including SaiakuNana and members of Madness and Dexys Midnight Runners among others. In 2022, he won a Special Award at the 12th Unco Film Festival in Tokyo, with his work positively likened to that of Terry Gilliam.
Picture credits: (Top) A detail of 1(18) by Mayumi Konno photographed by Ignatius Rake; (bottom) Martim Barrosso photographed by Ignatius Rake.