Betting on Japan as the Next Asian Market Hub, Veteran Fair Organizer Magnus Renfrew Is Organizing a New Art Event in Tokyo

Tokyo Gendai, planned for next summer, is the latest contemporary art fair in Renfrew's portfolio.

The Tokyo skyline. Image courtesy Tokyo Gendai.

Art fair director Magnus Renfrew, who has created events in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taipei, is opening a new contemporary art fair in Tokyo amid booming demand in Asia and increasingly tight restrictions in Hong Kong.

Tokyo Gendai, scheduled for July 7 to 9, 2023 at the Pacifico Yokohama convention center, and organized with the Art Assembly, a group of international art fairs focused on the Asia Pacific region, will feature between 80 and 100 galleries. 

Dealers will be vetted by a selection committee including Pace president Marc Glimcher, Blum and Poe co-founder Tim Blum, Sadie Coles HQ director John O’Doherty, and Tapei gallery Each Modern founder Yaji Huang.

Eri Takane, the show’s director, previously worked for Google Arts and Culture in Japan and served as director of the Sazon Art Gallery in Tokyo. During a 13-year stint in Manhattan, she also worked as a fundraiser for the Japan Foundation. 

Eri Takane has been appointed director of Tokyo Gendai

Eri Takane has been appointed director of Tokyo Gendai.

“Galleries in Japan have expressed to us that the time is right for an international art fair,” Renfrew told Artnet News. “Given the economic strength of Japan and the cultural role it continues to play, it just stacks up to create an international level fair.”

The country, he said, also has “a solid base of mature collectors, and a new generation of collectors that are becoming increasingly active in the international art market.” 

“It’s time for the country to take its place again as one of the most prominent collecting communities in the world,” Glimcher added.

For the inaugural edition, organizers hope to have 20 percent of galleries from Japan and the remaining 80 percent from Asia and the rest of the world.

“I can say with great confidence that Japanese art in all of its forms remains one of the great influences in our world at large,” Blum added. “It feels like the right time to execute a global contemporary art fair of the highest caliber.”

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