Interview with SUPER WINDOW PROJECT by Yuri Ishii
Interview with SUPER WINDOW PROJECT
A project room hidden in Kamigamo, in Kyoto (Japan). This is SUPER WINDOW
PROJECT (http://www.superwindowproject.com/) run by a Spanish/French man Baron Osuna. It seems challenging to have this type of project focused on contemporary art in the most traditional town in Japan. Represented artists are mainly emerging Japanese artists and European artists. We asked Mr.Osuna for an interview to catch the concept of SUPER WINDOW PROJECT which is very difficult to simply define as a Ďgalleryí.
YI: Now you have your gallery in Kyoto, in Japan. Why did you decide to have this gallery in Japan? Were you interested at first in Japanese art scene or the artists who are in the portfolio of SUPER WINDOW PROJECT?
BO: Actually, I was not supposed to work when I came to Japan. I came to Japan because of other personal reason. That's why I had no knowledge about Japanese art scene then. I started this SUPER WINDOW PROJECT, as a ''project room'' to keep working with artists who I'd already worked with.
YI: So you already knew every artist in the portfolio of your gallery when you came to Japan?
BO: When it comes to Japanese artists, I discovered them after coming to Japan.
YI: OK. So now, could you tell us about your gallery's concept?
BO: At first, SUPER WINDOW PROJECT was a primary project, because the primary focus of a gallery is selling artworks. Our primary focus is to produce and diffuse works. Itís always very hard to say that weíre a gallery, as I find very often that some galleries, commercial galleries, even donít really have the direction or the vision of the work which they are doing. I launched this project to use my knowledge about the European art and the international art scene.
YI: As you were a curator in Milano before moving to Japan, do you find the art market in Europe and the one in Japan are different?
BO: Well, they are different, culturally different. Probably as the western countries are more concerned and also more interested in contemporary art, then contemporary art has become a market. On the other hand, when it comes to Japanese art market, its model already existed as I mentionnes just now about the western countries. It doesnít exist because there was the necessity to present, to represent and to sell artists. So the art market in Japan looks like the art market in Europe apparently, but each market has very specific reasons to exist. I donít believe in a global market, itís just a concept, an idea. I think that actually all these art scenes remain vey local.
YI: And do you think that there is something specific about Japanese art market?
BO: I donít really know what is specific about Japanese art market. I would say that itís a very conservative art market. It mostly turns only to painting, but at the same time, I believe that galleries and institutions play an important role to make things change.
YI: So, do you think current Japanese art scene is not actively open to other countries?
BO: Well, I think itís very personal, it depends on the artist himself. For example, when we met Soshi Matsunobe (http://matsunobe.net/), he was very young, only 21 year old, and had his first exhibition when he was 22. He is an artist who has a very strong commitment with what he is doing and who works very hard. And at the same time, he works also really hard to learn English. He knows that this is the key for artist to integrate abroad, to be able to talk with our curators, and directors of other institutions abroad. I think the young generation of Japanese artists are totally aware of that and are absolutely willing to move and to work as international artist.
YI: I know. I think the language is an essential element when we want to have any activities out of our own country, and for Japanese artists, this is also a big problem for which they have to work out hard and overcome.
BO: Yes, but itís very interesting how young Japanese artists are aware of whatís happening out of Japan. Most of the time they have the access to the information through the Internet and also through books and magazines. And I also find interesting that even though nowadays they are taking all this information from abroad, they donít forget their own identity as Japanese and they blend these influences and create very unique and specific works.
YI: You said that their works are unique and specific. So do you think they have a kind of special style? Can you describe this ďJapanese flavorĒ?
BO: Yes, absolutely they have it. Maybe itís because Japan is an island, a very isolated island, also when it comes to the language. Itís difficult to explain it or even categorize it without visual images. For me, there is a very beautiful connection between traditional culture and also modern culture, and it seems to be a more conceptual and minimal art than others, for example, thatís the case of the work of Soshi Matsunobe. We will show pieces of stones that will be a very large installation. He makes all these stones by himself, up to now he has made around 3000 stones. He makes them with cement, and he sculpts them by hand. The result looks like natural stones. Itís like an edition, like a multiple, itís the same process. He always uses an amount of cement that he sculpts with his hands, and like in nature, each one is different. So itís an edition, theyíre all stones, but theyíre all different. I really love this idea, and I think this is a very Japanese idea. ĎItís the same but differentí, or ĎItís the same and differentí, or ĎItís the same or differentí. When he sculpts them he always does the same moves, or he follows the same process, but the result is always different. This is something very unique,t which also happens in the Japanese ceramic technique.
|Soshi Matsunobe, "My stones", 2011, cement, variable dimensions. Courtesy Super Window Project|
YI: Itís really interesting to know the impression of foreign people about Japanese art and I really agree with what you have explained. Now, you are in Europe with your team of Japanese artists for the diffusion of their works.
BO: Yes, they will all have a group exhibition in Paris.
YI: Do you have some interesting reaction toward them?
BO: Yes, very much. I have to say that I have an incredible response. I sell their works very very well.
|Soshi Matsunobe, "Takashi Suzuki, "Bau", photographs, C-print mounted on wood, 8 x 11 x 2 cm. Edition of 3. Courtesy Super Window Project.|
|Koki Tanaka, "Gum Monster", 2011, 100 roll tapes, variable dimensions. Courtesy Super Window Project.|
YI: Iím happy to hear that, as I think itís quite difficult for young Japanese artists to get themselves better known abroad.
BO: Yes. Actually itís indeed quite rare for them to get attention out of Japan when they donít speak a second language, because they have to go to a very good or a very big gallery or they have to be already quite famous in Japan, which means they should be already relatively older.
YI: Do you think in Europe, the way of approaching to the art market is different from Japan? Is the way of diffusing art different?
BO: Actually itís quite the same thing. For example, what I tried to do in Japan was not to diffuse French artist but to integrate European artists in the Japanese art scene, since going and living in Japan is such an amazing experience. And Iím doing the same in Europe for Japanese artists. And all the artists who I chose for the program, I chose them because I knew their works. So the experience together will bring a shift or a dramatic change or evolution into their works. So the purpose of SUPER WINDOW PROJECT is to bring that moment. The point is really to produce a body of work, one piece or two pieces or a set of pieces that would be relevant in the artist career, itís really mean a step for the artist, and also to let the artist meet people who they wouldnít have the occasion to meet in their own countries, like curators or collectors.
YI: Itís definitely a good occasion for the artists. So what kind of project is to be launched with your team right now?
BO: We will open an exhibition with Soshi Matsunobe,Takashi Suzuki and Koki Tanaka in Paris next September 10th until October 22nd, as "Matsunobe / Suzuki / Tanaka, a Japanese window", at gdm/galerie de multiples: www.galeriedemultiples.com. Then I will stay in France, in Paris with gdm and in Marseille for Art-o-rama: http://art-o-rama.fr/en/8/galleries/17/acdc-bordeaux-super-window-project-kyoto), and in Germany (Cologne for artist in residence project for Soshi Matsunobe) and Italy (Artissima 18: http://artissima.it/). Iím really looking forward not only to represent but also to build something with Japanese artists. I really want to bring a Japanese spirit there. And I believe that one way to help the Japanese artist with their current situation is to keep doing their work.
YI: Through this promotion and diffusion, did you start to expect that Japanese contemporary artists will play an active role in the European art market?
BO: They are probably one of the best artists right now, but I think itís a big pity that nobody knows it.
YI: So you find that Japanese art is not well known enough all over the world?
BO: Yes. It is harsh to saying it, but I really believe that they really deserve a wider audience, definitely. So I really hope that what I am doing right now with Japan will be bigger, wider and will integrate artists who I donít know yet.
YI: I hope this project which youíre having right now will bring something huge for the artists. And the last question, why did you called your gallery, well, I should say your project, ĎSUPER WINDOW PROJECTí?
BO: Because I thought that calling it for example ĎGalerie Baron Osunaí would be more the idea of a gallery rather than the idea of a project. I wanted this name, as it was something more relevant to my own activity and also what I did in my life previously, because I also designed windows for brands like Louis Vuitton or Hermes. And when I was a kid, one work whose name was Ďwindow projectí attracted me a lot, so this name itself is a reference to my past. I really insisted in having this name, because for me it is a working progress and also a space which is a small space, but which has a huge, big window.
YI: What an interesting story! Thank you very much, Baron.
BO: O.Youíre welcome!
Interview and translation by Yuri Ishii.
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