Andrew’s world in Japan

Andrew Artist & researcher based in KL since 2009, passionately exploring the creative process & connecting with other creative people.

Art Gallery spaces In Tokyo
– Those moments when life converges –

Entrance to Gallery Common, Shibuya-ku

When was that turning point that I aimed to visit every art space in a city, big or small? It’s very diffi cult to pinpoint, and may just be an underlying element of my curious personality. I know that when I set out on Moments Of Truth project in 2007, the concept was to meet passionate artists in the space that provided them the most creative energy. Those spaces turned out they could be on a park bench, in a special corner of a cafe, or their bedroom studio. Travel has only funneled this burning curiosity to be exposed to and experience these spaces. Galleries are really no exception. Is it serendipitous that the person I fi rst interviewed was now guiding me to a photo exhibition of a motorcycle tour? Tokyo, what’s that like? First elements that come to mind are buildings, huge skyscrapers to be more precise. But here, tucked away between trees, photo’s, picnic tables and stars is a lovely art house full of reveling fans, a world away from the technocratic atmosphere. Art galleries and studios are not such a

Open space in front of Gallery Common

readily visible sight in Tokyo, although, certainly, there are more then many urban metropolitan centers. Spaces sharing the arts aren’t always where you might anticipate them. Some of the easiest spaces to see fi ne works of art in are actually department stores. Most often they are open to the public and provided as a service to the community. More traditional style galleries are a bit tougher to come by. Rent being what it is in Tokyo, people are really pressed to conform or manage to sustain themselves with either international followings or grants. Not so different from what many art galleries fi nd themselves doing to keep their doors open in other cities of the world. For this reason, most of Tokyo’s contemporary art spaces are tucked in some less desired real-estate. On the tops of skyscrapers, quiet gardens, old neighborhoods, or sweet parks. This particular space, Gallery Common, is located in a very quiet corner of Shibuya-ku. My friend Joji Shimamoto guided myself and a few friends to the opening of “Cost To Coast,” a photo exhibition by Ken Nagarhara. Gallery Common played host to a selection of black and white photos taken during a motorcycle tour of the USA in 2010. Three guys rode from Oakland, Ca to Brooklyn, Ny on classic motorcycles. Ken Nagahara rode a 1968 BSA, Chris Lindig and Max Schaaf rode shovelhead’s. Their motorcycles still in the ‘States, I met them among a number of characters as we exchanged stories of exploration, discovery and curiosity. I believe this event was followed by either an izakaya or ramen, but I didn’t really want to go anywhere else. It was as if my own journey had converged in this exhibition. My connection to Joji was that he was the fi rst formal interview I conducted on the creative process for the Moments Of Truth research project. That project entailed motorcycling 19,000+ miles over 9 months through 3 countries, taking pictures, searching creative people to interview and spaces not so different from Gallery Common. Maybe the name is a reminder that although the experience may seem epic to me, it’s a bit more common then we let on. I know that life is a work in progress, much like a gallery. The exhibition changes if it is to remain of interest. Any space in time can be a gallery, if we are willing to share our experiences.