Feeling the Tokyo Art Beat

By Dominique Flemings

It’s hot outside. It’s not the one hundred percent degree humidity that I remember from those few sultry days back in Canada, but a very particular kind of heat. A dry, almost arid heat that is reminiscent of confectionary ovens. It reminds me of the day I moved into my first apartment here in Japan. The heat index meant plenty of sweat as I moved all my belongings up into the third floor flat. Thankfully, I didn’t have much in the way of furniture, but did I ever have an art collection: printings of Van Gogh, Raphael, Monet, and, of course, Hokusai, which all found a place on my pastel blue walls. These posters covered my flat from ceiling to floor and made the place seem a bit more like home sweet home.

That was some time ago, but as I retreated into my air conditioning and got on the computer today, I thought of those posters, particularly the Hokusai. It was his most famous piece, The Great Wave off Kanagwa, and it was, in some ways, my first introduction to Japanese art. Since my mind was already on the subject of Japanese art, I did a quick search on Japanese art exhibits here in Tokyo, and my search led me to a site that was ripe for a review: Tokyo Art Beat.

The website is an extensive guide to all things art here in Tokyo. Upon arriving at the site, you find a simple tab system which directs you the six different parts of the website: home, events, venues, TABlog, the shop and MyTAB (TAB is the acronym of Tokyo Art Beat). The events and venues section is a convenient means of finding shows and museums, and the website allows you to select particular categories that pertain to your artistic taste. Have a penchant for calligraphy? The site currently lists eight calligraphy shows in Tokyo. Want a café setting to enjoy your art in? There’s a category for café venues. It’s a shame you can’t search for venues by art category, but perhaps this is something that will come later. The other tabs aren’t noteworthy, except for the TABlog, which is something I think is worth devoting some time to.

When I glanced through the TABlog the first time, I was impressed at what seemed to be a wide variety of review topics. When I gave it a more thorough look-over, I was rapt at the actual breadth of all that is covered. There are interviews, reviews, news stories, etc. about anything and everything that has to do with Japanese art. The reviews cover specific artwork, art exhibits and venues with a level of art expertise and finesse that makes you want to go and see what they’re talking about in person. The reviews are all excellent artistic commentary, and aspiring art connoisseurs and old hands alike will enjoy the writings of TAB’s expert staff. There are some skilled writers and reviewers working for TAB, and they offer excellent insight into the Japanese art scene.

As I said, it’s hot outside. For those who are in the mood for air conditioning, inspiring art and keen artistic editorial, check out Tokyo Art Beat. If you live in or around Tokyo, look up some museums or art shows in your area, see what the reviewers had to say and then check it out. The mind can always use some more culture, and you can always use an air conditioned art gallery or café. However, I have no doubt that, long after these summer months, Tokyo Art Beat will continue to prove a useful guide for artist appreciators everywhere. Thumbs up to this well-done site.

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~ by Japan Blog Review on August 23, 2010.

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