Openings: ‘Survived!’ at Taka Ishii Gallery

Celebrating 25 years of one of Tokyo’s foremost commercial galleries

Annette Kelm, Gingko, 2019, archival pigment print, 75 × 56 cm. Courtesy: Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo 

‘Survived!’ is the tongue-in-cheek title of Taka Ishii Gallery’s 25th anniversary show, which runs across all three of its spaces in the Roppongi district of Tokyo. Not that the gallery has always been there – Ishii studied fine art in Los Angeles, where he set up his first outpost, before moving back to Tokyo in the early 1990s. The Tokyo space opened with an exhibition of photographs by American artist Larry Clark, documenter of the violent beauty of troubled youth, whose sensibility echoes that of a group of now-iconic Japanese photographers – including Nobuyoshi Araki, Daido Moriyama – who the gallery would go on to work with and who would cement its reputation on the international stage. ‘Survived’ brings together new and previously unseen works by 37 of the gallery’s artists. It’s a buffet to the gallery’s usually elegant prix fixe – but it’s fun. As you might expect, photography is well represented: in a recent series of Polaroids by Araki that combines his recurrent obsessions with food and kinbaku-bi (erotic bondage); a large-scale photographed recreation of an office interior by Thomas Demand, typically eerie in its not-quite-rightness; and a pair of crisp still lifes by Anette Kelm – to mention but a few. Yuki Kimura’s 32-minute video Gum (1995), in which a couple exchange gum by blowing bubbles into each other’s mouth, recalls the listless energy of Clark’s images – in contrast to the refined architecturally-scaled photographic installations that she has been making in recent years. ‘Survived’ includes pieces by international artists that Ishii has long championed, including Cerith Wyn Evans and Sean Landers. A beautifully wistful portrait by the Russian American painter Sanya Kantarovsky, the newest addition to the gallery’s roster, brings the show bang up to date.

‘Survived!’ runs at Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo, Japan, until 27 July 2019.

Amy Sherlock is deputy editor of frieze and is based in London, UK.

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