Art Collaboration Kyoto Aims to Create a New Model for Art Fairs, Where Dealers Are Friends Not Foes

Contemporary art fairs have been proliferating across Asia lately, as they did a decade or so ago in the United States and Europe. Frieze Seoul arrived in 2022, Art SG in Singapore in January, and Tokyo Gendai in July. Art Basel Hong Kong is still the dominant player in the Asian art market, but it is gaining competitors fast. Remember complaints about “fairtigue” prior to the pandemic? That seems like long ago. The argument put forward by fair organizers has been that these economic hubs, with their own distinct art scenes, merit fairs of their own. No arguing with that. But strolling the aisles (or just perusing Instagram), there is a creeping sense of monotony to it all: Well-capitalized dealers carting their wares from one white-walled trade-show booth to the next. lapakqq

But at least one art fair has set out to do things differently. Behold Art Collaboration Kyoto, a young public-private entity that asks each selected Japanese gallery to partner with one or two galleries from abroad on a single display. That intriguing conceit has “a synergistic effect on the quality of the booth,” Yukako Yamashita, ACK’s program director, argued in an interview with ARTnews ahead of the event, which opens this weekend. (Typically, the Japanese gallerist invites the foreign colleague, but the fair also sometimes assists.)

“It’s just such a nice way of doing something with colleagues from the other side of the world, sharing resources,” Paris-based dealer Robbie Fitzpatrick said. His eponymous gallery will be in a booth with Anomaly (of Tokyo) and ROH (of Jakarta); each is bringing work by three of their artists, including Hannah Weinberger, Kei Imazu, and Dusadee Huntrakul, respectively. lapakqq

ACK debuted in 2021, when Japan’s borders were still closed amid the pandemic; they reopened fully last October, weeks before its second edition. And so the latest outing, which runs October 28 to 30 at Sachio Otani’s 1960s sci-fi Kyoto International Conference Center, has the feel of being a major event, with exhibitors coming from around the globe.

New York’s 47 Canal, for one, has linked up with Tokyo’s Misako & Rosen to show some of the beguiling impressionist landscapes that Trevor Shimizu, who is represented by both galleries, has been making in recent years. This will be dealer Jeffrey Rosen’s third time doing ACK, having collaborated with São Paulo’s Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel in 2021 and London’s Herald Street in 2022. “It was fun, and because it was fun, it generated business,” Rosen said of that second fair, adding that he “met Japanese collectors that we did not otherwise know.”

Yamashita, who started out as a dealer (she showed at the first ACK), said that she has heard collectors lament at big fairs that “there are too many things to see.” In Kyoto, just 64 dealers will be on hand—which “should be a comfortable size for visitors to go through the fair and fully digest the artworks on view,” she said. lapakqq