The inaugural edition of Tokyo Gendai, the art world’s latest fair, opened to VIPs on Thursday afternoon, with a long line forming ahead of the 2 p.m. opening time and crowded aisles throughout the day. Dealers reported a number of first-day sales, and the buzzing energy throughout the exhibition hall at the Pacifico Yokohama on the first day was palpable.
In a press conference just before the VIP opening of the fair, Magnus Renfrew described this moment as “the beginning of a new chapter for the art scene in Japan,” and he reiterated previous talking points that the inaugural edition of the fair is “the first step on a longer journey,” adding that the group’s “aspiration is that over the coming years we can really build this into a fair of global importance. It’s really time now for the Japanese art scene to step into the spotlight.”
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Similarly, Katsunori Takahashi, the head of the private banking division for SMBC, the fair’s lead sponsor, said that though modern and contemporary art has, in recent years, become popular in Japan like elsewhere around the world, Japanese financial institutions “have only been making limited contributions” to the art scene when compared to their counterparts in North America and Europe. With SMBC as principal sponsor, “I think it is a very small step that I would like to make into a very big opportunity … to make further contributions” to Japan’s art market.
Below, a look at the best booths at the 2023 edition of Tokyo Gendai, which runs until Sunday, July 9.