HAPPENINGText: Ayumi Yakura

Art Fair Sapporo 2015“, where all gallerists meet and sell hand-picked contemporary art work, took place on November 22nd and 23rd at Cross Hotel Sapporo. 2015 marked the third anniversary, and this time the event welcomed a total of 20 galleries from 12 international and domestic cities including 6 new vendors. Surprisingly, the total sales were 240% more than last year.

Room 1407, eitoeiko (Tokyo) “SUHAMA Recycling Kills the Copyright” Mitsuhiro Okamoto, 2015, Recycled items, Coin Purse, Sizes vary, Photo: Erika Kusumi

The artwork by OKAMOTO MITSUHIRO, “SUHAMA Recycling Kills the Copyright”, was chosen as the main object for a poster for this year’s fair to represent the idea of the fair. The work consists of recycled coin purses hanging on a stand. At first sight, it looks like Mickey and Minnie Mouse which is copyrighted by The Walt Disney Company. However, if you look at them closely, you will realize that each facial expression is quite different from the original and may relate them to social issues in the news. The work tells the community that contemporary artists are mirrors who reflect society. Especially, art fairs tend to gather artists who have sensitive feelings which allow them to see time, society and themselves, within their own strong creativity which reflects ideas into art.

Room 1305, YOD gallery (Osaka), Photo: Erika Kusumi

This year’s exhibit had many artworks with attractive textures that gave a strong impression to people who could appreciate the feeling to see an artwork in person, such as embroidered pieces of art which had innovative taste and abstract art using the beauty of lacquer. High-skilled artists born in 1990s who had been discovered by gallerists are also an important point that should be highlighted. In addition to the four vendors from previous years, three from Tokyo and one from Sapporo, they were some vendors from Nagoya and Hakodate. This made it possible for visitors to discover artists from different cities along with seeing works by artists who were originally from Hokkaido which meant that entering each hotel rooms was a bit like traveling around Japan.

New City Art Fair Taipei 2015, Art Fair Sapporo 2015 x Cross Hotel Sapporo, exhibition booth, Photo: Taketo Oguchi

By providing opportunities for visitors to look, learn and purchase contemporary art that attract international and domestic audiences, “Art Fair Sapporo” tries to be a pioneer of the art market in Sapporo in order for art to take root in the area as a regional culture. In the meantime, Sapporo broadens its horizons in spreading its own art culture. In conjunction with this, right before the event, a four-day exhibition from November 12th, 2015 took place at the “New City Art Fair Taipei 2015”. Also, every December, an event called “Creative Hokkaido Exhibition” at the Cross Hotel Sapporo takes places in order to showcase art to locals.

“Art Fair Sapporo 2015 Special program” Toothpick art “Beethoven’s Portrait”, Photo: Erika Kusumi

There still is an issue that people tend to avoid contemporary art due to a perception that it is complicated. To solve this issue, Art Fair Sapporo prepared many events and special exhibits at the same time as the event for people who are not familiar with art. The first exhibit purposely took visitors by surprise, as when they arrived at the front desk on the second floor there was a huge toothpick, this work of art is called “Beethoven’s Portrait”. Students in class 7 of the first grade at Sapporo Keimei junior high school worked together to create this huge artwork; in total they used an astounding 100,572 toothpicks. This was originally made for a school festival themed “Destiny”, and no one at the school thought that this would be displayed at an international art fair. The value of this art is certainly a lot bigger than its own size, and many visitors were quite impressed, a glance was never enough. In fact this impressed not only first time visitors, but also regular guests seemed to admire it.

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