Art Collaboration Kyoto’s 2023 Edition Sees Strong Attendance, Steady Sales

Miles away from the hubbub of mega art fairs in Europe and the US, Art Collaboration Kyoto (ACK), an alternative approach to traditional art fairs, launched its third edition at the Kyoto International Convention Centre, which ran from October 27–30. megahoki88

Held in Japan’s most picturesque, historically rich, and conservative city, ACK has enjoyed a positive reception from attendees across the region since its debut in 2021, primarily because of its promise of a less frenetic platform.

“The Japanese art scene—with rich history that dates back thousands of years—has always been dynamic and thriving, but we are conscious that it has been (re)gaining more international attention in recent years, thanks to the new generation of artists, collectors, and arts professionals that bring fresh and global perspectives to the scene,” Yukako Yamashita, ACK’s Program Director, told ARTnews.

“We are mindful that it’s important to continue this momentum to further elevate the art scene globally, but we must do so in a thoughtful way that does not compromise the quality and sincerity of what we have to offer. This mindset is very much reflected in how we operate ACK,” she added.

In this vein, ACK’s trademark feature involves each Japanese host gallery sharing a booth with an international collaborator of their choice. The last edition presented works by 64 galleries sharing 35 booths, comprising tall wooden walls similar to open crates at a warehouse, rendering an already small showcase even more refreshingly intimate and focused.

This year, ACK welcomed 33 new exhibitors, including leading international galleries like 47 Canal, Almine Rech, Flower Gallery, Karma, and Mendes Wood DM. “We have great ambitions to grow our audiences internationally and contribute to Kyoto’s art community, but we don’t want to rush anything,” said Yamashita. 

The Gallery Collaborations section paired 27 international galleries with 26 galleries from Japan, while ACK’s other gallery section, Kyoto Meetings, featured 11 presentations of works by artists related to the city. megahoki88

People stand an art fair booth with a sculpture in the foreground.

According to fair organizers, ACK doubled their physical footprint with its latest edition, while maintaining the number of exhibitors, with the intention to make the halls less crowded for both visitors and exhibitors. The expanded space also accommodated programs with partners, like Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group whose “MUFG Kogei Project” showcased artisans who used traditional techniques to make modern-day objects with high levels of craftsmanship. 

While a few collectors from Europe and the US said they found the overall layout less overstimulating than that of other fairs, this year’s increased physical space did not necessarily translate into the fair’s undeniably unique selling point, according to several international visitors and industry insiders who ARTnews spoke with on the ground.

“The previous iteration of the fair appeared to exhibit a more consistent curatorial approach. The smaller scale and a more cohesive curation of the fair space were aspects that garnered success,” said Natalia Dawid, a Tokyo-based director for Pearl Lam Galleries, which did not participate in the fair. megahoki88