The Japanese contemporary field offers new collectors a variety of objects from which to choose.
“One doesn’t need an art history degree to appreciate contemporary Japanese ceramics,” says Joan Mirviss of Joan B. Mirviss Ltd. in New York. “The work requires no historical or philosophical context, rather it is the perfect blending of superb technical skill and artistic intelligence.” With its tactile and visual magnetism, the work begs to be touched and appreciated. And coupled with affordability and ability to withstand long-term display, the appeal has become universal with major works entering the permanent collections of museums throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, Canada and Asia. Ms. Mirviss suggests exploring the work of Nakaigawa Yuki, a prominent woman clay artist whose biomorphic black gray or white sculptures are all evocative of forms in nature and are remarkably undervalued.
Byron Kehoe from the Lesley Kehoe Galleries in Melbourne, Australia says that Japanese contemporary art offers wonderful opportunities for new and young collectors. “We are featuring a number of emerging artists in metalwork during Asia Week. Japanese metalwork is unique and features a number of extraordinary techniques that have evolved from time-honored traditions and are now reinterpreted by contemporary artists. He points to Kaneko Toru as an artist to keep an eye on. Toru’s work is represented in several museums, including The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums in Scotland and The Ulster Museum in Ireland. His work was selected for Turning Point: Oribe and The Arts of Sixteenth-Century Japan held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2003. White Objét #1 (Checkered), a tin-plated copper vessel is priced at $2,800.
At Dai Ichi Arts, Beatrice Chang recommends the work of Yuriko Mastudase items from her affordable selection. “This colorful hand-made teapot ($3,500)They both comes with artist-signed wooden boxes, which are also another focus of collectors (seasoned and new) of Japanese ceramics, almost as much as an artwork’s authenticity and minimal aesthetics,” she says. “The works by thisese artist s hasve been featured in solo and group exhibitions internationally and locally.”
“Having our permanent gallery space on 26th Street in Chelsea, the contemporary art capital of the world, is one of our strengths,” says Nana Onishi of Onishi Gallery. “Since I am one of the few native Japanese gallerists in New York City, I feel that I have a mission to help art lovers become more interested in Japanese art, especially those young or novice collectors who have a passion for Asian art but need guidance.”
For those interested in more traditional Japanese works of art, Asia Week New York has a number of galleries from which to choose:
Katherine Martin of Scholten Japanese Art attests to this by offering an affordable selection of prints. “Japanese art is much more likely to be within the reach of a young collector,” she says. “For example, from our upcoming exhibition, there is a beautiful erotic print by Keisai Eisen, Grass on the Way of Love-Geisha on the Sumida River, circa 1825-28, for $4,500 and for something less racy, we have a beautiful landscape, Albuni Kannon, Bingo, by one of our most popular 20th century artists Kuwase Hasui priced at $3,400.”
“Japanese antiques possess many fields that are really good for collecting,” says Milan-based Giuseppe Piva. “Netsuke, prints and tsuba are fields where you can build a very good collection starting with pieces that cost few thousand dollars each.” Mr. Piva suggests this signed ink painting by Shogetsu priced at $4,000, as well as others by artists such as Tani Buncho, Okuhara Seiko, and Otagaki Rengetsu.
“Japanese paintings are truly an undervalued market with exceptional works by long admired and collected artists fetching well below $10,000,” says Gabriel Eckenstein of BachmannEckenstein, Basel, Switzerland. “We are speaking about a field where you can find very well-known artists who are represented in many collections both inside and outside Japan. There have been numerous exhibitions on them, and they have been well published, and yes, they are highly affordable. Collectors outside Japan truly just need to be educated that a hanging scroll can fit as well into their living space as comfortably as one inside a frame,” he says.
New York’s Carole Davenport suggests a tokkuri, or sake bottle, called Tangen Satsuma, priced at $3,900. It was produced in the middle Edo period in Kyushu, Japan, at the Satsuma kilns. It is labeled Tangen due to the fact that the underglaze blue landscape scene, which decorates all sides, is attributed to the hand of the Kano Painter Kano Tangen, 1679-1767. A very similar bottle is illustrated in the well-known book on Japanese pottery by Soame Jenyns.