Emerging Tokyo

Tues. December 3- Sat. December 7, 2019

Opening Reception
Tues. December 3
5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Performance by SAORI KANDA with SIVA
7:30 PM - 8:00 PM

213 East 121st Street New York, NY 10035

Tagboat is pleased to present the exhibition “Emerging Tokyo” on view in East Harlem, New York at 213 East 121st Street. Following the successful exhibition "TOKYO ILLUSION" held in Taichung last year, TAGBOAT (Nihombashi, Tokyo) with 15 years of its history, has chosen New York for this year's exciting exhibition by emerging Japanese artists of Reiwa Era.

After pioneering art movements of "Gutai" and "Mono-ha" in the Showa Era, influential pop artists that are considered great masters today such as Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami gained immense popularity overseas in the Heisei Era, strongly influencing the next generation Reiwa-era artists. In this exhibition, works by 10 aspiring successors of the Japanese art scene of Reiwa will be shown, including their latest paintings, sculptures, installations, and videos. This will be a not-to-miss show where art lovers will be able to encounter new favorite pieces.

・TAGBOAT is the contemporary art gallery that utilizes online technology most in the world. Our goal is not to be the portal site of contemporary art. Our mission is to enlarge the art market to select high quality arts through our unique viewpoint and sell it with added value. We aim to make art more familiar and easy to recognize for customers and to eliminate hurdles between customers and art. We will innovate the art market by the management based on data analysis rather than intuition and experience.


Japanese Contemporary Art from the Heisei Era to the Reiwa Era Tagboat would like to propose an exhibition where the history of contemporary art in Japan could be understood in a comprehensive manner. Of the three recent eras, Showa, Heisei, and Reiwa, this exhibit will mainly feature artworks from the Heisei era. In this exhibition, visitors will be able to follow the recent transition of Japanese contemporary art spanning the three eras: the late years of the Showa era, the entire Heisei era, and the dawn of the Reiwa era.

In Japan, a new emperor was crowned in May 2019, and the era of "Reiwa" began. From the postwar years up to the present, especially during the previous “Heisei” era that lasted about thirty years, the history of Japanese contemporary art had twists and turns and a number of art movements emerged. Avant-garde artists who had been active mainly in Osaka before the war subsequently became renown as the internationally acclaimed “Gutai” group. Led by members such as Kazuo Shiraga who used his feet to paint, the group pursued radicalness in their artistic expression. And then traditional Japanese painting and avant-garde art of postwar Japanese art came to a turning point when artists such as Lee Ufan and Kishio Suga from the “Mono-ha” rose to prominence in the late 1960s of the Showa era. The artists of the Mono-ha would incorporate natural or industrial objects as they are in their works, and by using unaltered objects, the works were able to focus on the objects or the material itself, which is “mono(things)” in Japanese, and this achievement paved the way for new possibilities in the history of Japanese art.

By the 1970s, the Mono-ha movement reached its end, and artworks showing forms of expression from the opposite pole such as “virtuosic techniques” or “super-realism” succeeded it. Contrary to conceptual art that emphasize the importance of an idea behind the artworks, these new types of artistic expression allowed traditional craftsmanship to be recognized directly, and the perfection of the completed artworks came to be appreciated once again.

Before the Heisei era began in 1989, pop culture represented by "manga" and "animation" also underwent various developments. In the ‘80s, the Nippon Graphic Exhibition brought about the illustration boom, and “heta-uma,” which runs counter to the previously favored elaborate style started to pick up steam, and some artists even developed a style with intentional childish drawings.

The concept of “kawaii” or cute, which was widely accepted even outside of Japan in the ‘90s, coupled with the otaku culture and blossomed as a uniquely Japanese aesthetics that seeks value in puerility. It is also around this time that works of artists that are considered great masters today started to gain popularity overseas, such as Yayoi Kusama and her pop art. Takashi Murakami, the forerunner of “kawaii,” created a new concept called “Superflat” that merged Japanese tradition with advanced technologies of today.

Yoshitomo Nara, one of the most successful and popular artists today, took what used to be subculture in Japan and turned it into high art. Mr., another artist who appropriated anime and manga techniques in his works, also contributed to blurring the lines between otaku culture and contemporary art. The collaboration between pop art and fashion has been an ongoing trend for some while, and luxury fashion brands have been eager to incorporate manga or street art into their products, as seen in the cases of Takashi Murakami and Louis Vuitton or Keiichi Tanaami and Adidas.

Another feature of Japanese art history is that artists started to gather to form artist collectives during the ‘00s and the ‘10s. Using various technologies within groups in order to surpass the limitations of an individual began to be recognized as an established method to create artworks. Artists including Takashi Murakami began to work together with his staff in his studio, and it also became possible for companies such as Team Lab to produce profitable artworks. This group production enabled the exploration of various new styles, and artworks demonstrated a wide range of artistic expression .

In particular, the development of works that use moving images over the years is quite remarkable. Video art and installations are found everywhere today, and the creation of an immersive environment has become an important factor for both the artists and the audience. Companies such as Team Lab and Rhizomatics have contributed to the evolution of the latest imaging technologies including projection mapping and augmented reality, and due to the improvements made in the precision of visual and auditory effects, images in the artworks have become more realistic than ever before.

Then, the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred on March 11, 2011 greatly effected the artists, from their surrounding environment, state of mind, and to the way they recognize the meaning of their own artistic activities. The harsh reality that what exists now could disappear any time soon, or that there is no guarantee that the peaceful every day life will continue as it is became evident after being hit by this natural disaster. Artists shifted to creating works more focused on “experiences” or “emotions” rather than relying on “substances” that may easily be lost.

Technology also played a significant role in propelling the change of values favoring “experiences” over “substances.” Any tangible artworks is destined to be lost one day, but since preserving intangible, sensuous works become possible thanks to the development of new data storage media, the value of such artworks that offer “experiences” has increased dramatically even among the general public.

It goes without saying that this experiencing of art is connected to the latest technology including projection mapping used by the above-mentioned Team Lab.

Japanese artists that Tagboat represents all produce excellent works rooted in Japanese culture, and each and every work has its own defining traits. Whether these works are presented individually or collectively, there is no doubt that their abilities will be fully demonstrated. It is our challenge to stage and exhibit these artworks together as a compatible group without hampering the individuality of each piece.

Throughout Japan’s art history, new genres have been created by combining diverse elements found in the field of art instead of treating the elements separately. Therefore, it is natural that artists assimilate traditional Japanese philosophies to create new artworks. All works chosen for this show cite the past of Japanese contemporary art, and at the same time, they are results of each artists’ relentless search for new forms of expression relevant today.

This exhibit will offer a great opportunity for the audience to engage with artworks by the most cutting-edge emerging Japanese artists, and also, through such artworks, to understand the history of Japanese contemporary art that leads up to the present.