A New Tokyo Art Space Will Champion Contemporary African Art

The exhibition platform is founded by Edna Dumas of the Hermès-Dumas family, as well as the Japanese actor Yuta Nakano and German entrepreneur Lothar Eckstein.

A rendering of the entrance of Space Un, a new exhibition venue and art platform to open in Tokyo on April 20. Courtesy of Space Un.

A low-key collector who is associated with the family that controls one of the world’s most prominent luxury brands is teaming up with a Japanese actor and a Berlin-based cultural entrepreneur to open a new art space and platform in Tokyo championing African contemporary art. Does that sound like an unlikely combination?

Not to collector Edna Dumas, who is part of the Dumas family, which has a major stake in the French luxury brand Hermès. A passionate supporter of contemporary African art and artist, Dumas has launched Space Un, a new art and culture platform dedicated to promoting contemporary African art and cultural exchange between Japan and African countries while supporting African artists. The space is scheduled to open on April 20 in Tokyo.

“The idea for setting up Space Un came out of realizing the importance of creating a unique platform in both Japan and the wider Asia region to give visibility to Contemporary African Art and to create a bridge between cultures,” Dumas said in a statement.

collector Edna Dumas

Collector and Space Un founder Edna Dumas. Courtesy of Space Un.

The opening of the space coincides with a recent growth in expectation of Japan’s art market as more international players set up shop in Tokyo. After mega gallery Pace announced its new Tokyo outpost last year, French gallery Ceysson & Bénétière also unveiled its plan to open its first Asian branch in the city this fall.

Joining Dumas are two co-founders, the actor and artist Yuta Nakano and Lothar Eckstein, an entrepreneur based in Berlin who has worked in the areas of media, social media, and e-commerce. Located in the popular area of Aoyama—which sits between Shibuya and Roppongi, where cultural landmarks such as Mori Art Museum, the National Art Center Tokyo, and 21_21 Design Sight can be found—Space Un will be housed in a building designed by the architect Go Hasegawa.

a house nestled in the mountains of Japan's Nara area.

Space Un’s residency takes place in Yoshino Cedar House, in Yoshino, Nara. Courtesy of Space Un.

Space Un is a hybrid art platform consisting of the elements of a commercial gallery while also featuring public engagement programs and an artist residency. It is planning to stage a mix of four to six selling exhibitions and non-commercial shows per year. Interdisciplinary public programs ranging from artist talks, workshops, music and film events, as well as educational activities and readings, will also take place at the space.

The platform’s inaugural exhibition is the fruit of Space Un’s recently instituted residency program, which just launched this month. Four artists per year will be invited to participate in the residency, held at Yoshino Cedar House, designed by Hasegawa and Taichi Asai and located in Yoshino, Nara. The artists will then have the opportunity to show their resulting works at the Tokyo outpost. The show opening in April, titled “Anastomosis,” will feature a new series of works by the 1987-born Senegalese artist Aliou Diack created during his three-week residency.

“There are lots of similarities shared between Senegal and Japan. I think above all, we share this true appreciation for the Earth, a true recognition and gratitude for all it gives us,” Diack said in a statement.

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