New Shirokane art complex

by Ashley Rawlings

New Shirokane art complex 3-1-15 Shirokane, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Last Saturday, three of Tokyo’s city’s major galleries — Kodama Gallery, Yamamoto Gendai and Takahashi Collection — moved into a nondescript building in Shirokane, putting this high-class residential neighborhood on the art map for the first time. Previously located in a former printing warehouse on the back-streets of Kagurazaka, Kodama and Yamamoto have moved to Shirokane in search of bigger spaces, while Takahashi has joined them to open up a second space.

Ryutaro Takahashi is perhaps Japan’s leading contemporary Japanese artwork collector, and his concentration on large-scale works has led him to open two galleries to show them off. His new Shirogane space is holding “Mine is Yours,” an impressive show by Tomoko Konoike. Resisting any temptation to overfill the gallery, two of Konoike’s most grandiose works dominate the room. To the right hangs a 10-m long drawing of her signature six-legged wolves, inhaling and exhaling a swirling mist of daggers; and to the left stands a literally dazzling installation in which Konoike’s mythical beast has been reincarnated in mirror fragments and captured in a geometric forest of red wires.

Yamamoto Gendai’s new third floor space is also significantly larger than its Kagurazaka location. The inaugural exhibition “Death of the Skull” showcases paintings, sculptures and glass works with a “folkloric” feel by Yasuyuki Nishio, Keisuke Tanaka, Tsukasa Ohtake and Shoko Matsumiya. Kodama Gallery now boasts almost four times the space it had before. To celebrate its reopening it held a solo exhibition of Zon Ito, who works in installations, videos and with embroidery on fabric.

The good news is that this relocation does not represent the death of Kagurazaka building as a contemporary art haven. In addition to Takahashi Collection’s ongoing presence there, Kyoto’s Mori Yu Gallery has taken over Kodama Gallery’s former space to establish itself in Tokyo for the first time; Yuka Sasahara Gallery has relocated from elsewhere in the same building into Yamamoto Gendai’s old space, and Art Atlantico Gallery has opened in the building opposite.