Events / Events Outside Tokyo

Silent bids for Tohoku

by Jae Lee

Staff Writer

The Kiyosumi art gallery complex of prominent commercial galleries, including Taka Ishii Gallery, ShugoArts, Kido Press, Hiromi Yoshii Gallery, Ai Kodawa Gallery, Miyake Fine Art, SPROUT Curation and Tomio Koyama Gallery, is holding a charity silent auction to raise money for the Great Eastern Japan earthquake and tsunami-affected areas. Titled “Silent Auction in Kiyosumi for East Northern Japan,” the event is organized by Tomio Koyama, who explains that it was his gallery’s artists who first had the idea of raising funds.

“Unlike big-name celebrities, most artists do not have immediate cash that they can donate to a charity organization,” Koyama says. “But they are still desperate to find a way they can help. And as artists, they can contribute artwork.”

Once the galleries at the Kiyosumi complex officially decided to join forces for the auction, word traveled fast. The number of participating artists and galleries is still increasing, and now includes not only those in the Kiyosumi complex, but also others nearby. Considering the impressive lineup of artists, it is quiet hard to believe that the auction was planned and prepared within 2 to 3 days. Not only this, but with many of the Kiyosumi complex’s galleries dealing with overseas artists, they have even been able to persuade foreign artists to also participate.

“Our (foreign) artists reacted immediately by sending us ‘R U OK?’ emails,” says Koyama who is still receiving messages from new artists eager to chip in. “They were very sympathetic towards the Tohoku disaster.”

To accommodate the auction’s works for viewing, Tomio Koyama Gallery postponed its originally planned show and all works up for auction are on display until April 16. Bidding is taking place on a special website, which is available in Japanese, English and Chinese. Each artist has listed an estimation of how much he or she hopes to raise with their work, though some items are starting at 0. All the profits will go to the charity organization Japan Platform, though buyers are asked to cover shipping and insurance costs. This shouldn’t deter anyone, though, as Koyama explains, “There will be no baka dekai (enormous) pieces up for auction.”

“A few buyers have contacted us from overseas asking if this would be a chance to buy art works at a lower price,” says Koyama, noting that the auction is a good opportunity to buy unique pieces. “But I strongly hope people understand where this event is coming from.”

The silent auction ends on April 16 ?(12 a.m.). More than 90 artists are participating, including Nobuyoshi Araki, Kyoko Murase, Daido Moriyama, Benjamin Butler, Yoshitomo Nara, Taro Izumi and Richard Tuttle. For more information, visit

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