‘Artist File 2011′

by Mike Hamilton

The National Art Center, Tokyo

Closes June 6

Tokyo’s National Art Center’s annual contemporary art exhibition, “Artist File,” is back for it’s fourth outing — documenting and presenting some of the more remarkable works being produced by both Japanese and foreign artists.

The exhibition, which doesn’t have a specific theme, focuses on several rising talents, offering a diverse range of genres and statements, and the myriad mediums — ranging from sculpture and painting to photography — will leave few senses unstimulated.

This year, eight artists have been chosen, each of whom has his or her own solo space within the exhibition area. Viewers are therefore able to focus on each individual artist without the distractions you may find in a collective show.

Included in the stand-out artists is Bjorn Melhus, one of Europe’s most active and well-known video artists. Melhus’ installation combines the syncing of voices lifted from American horror movies with strobe lighting — the whole exhibit watched over by the artist himself, who, dressed in an owl suit looks out from another screen.

Photographer Taiji Matsue is also worth noting. His simple, uniform and clearly focused land- and cityscapes are captivating. The clarity of buildings, trees, rivers, even people in his videos and photography, skew viewers’ sense of scale and perspective, leaving them lost in his works.

Kengo Ken, who recently begun to show his work abroad, has been singled out many as a representative of a new generation of Japanese contemporary artists. His installation at “Artist File” uses industrial-size electric fans on a mammoth patchwork quilt made from scarves that billows with slight movements of air.

With the inclusion of more international artists this year, “Artist File” is becoming better at capturing globalized trends in contemporary art, illustrating how artists now rarely work within the confines of national boundaries, while the works themselves express techniques and sentiments that could only be born from today’s media-saturated society.

The National Art Center, Tokyo is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Fri. till 8 p.m.), closed Tue, admission ¥1,000. For more information, visit www.nact.jp.