The coronavirus pandemic dealt the world economy a massive blow in 2020. Its impact was also felt by the art market, with around 90 percent of the world’s galleries closed in the first half of the year and sales down by up to 40 percent.

Not that all the news was gloomy. Great advances were made in the digitalization of art and art sales, and the market bounced back in the second half of 2020. Auction sales are currently healthy, and the contemporary art market looks strong.

「祖形 (ヒトガタ)」Hitogata by Makoto Sasaki 佐々木誠 at Tokyo Art Fair 2012 | Ryohei Noda CC by SA 2.0/ ©

This year, most of the world’s art fairs have been postponed until after May. One exception is Art Fair Tokyo, which will take place from March 19th to March 21st, giving art buyers an early bite of the apple.

Art Fair Tokyo is Japan’s largest art fair and the oldest in Asia. It features a wide range of art from antiques and crafts to nihonga painting, modern and contemporary art.

This year, the fair will be held in the magnificent surroundings of Tokyo International Forum. It features 141 gallery and art organization exhibitors and includes exhibits on an unprecedented scale.

The lobby of Tokyo International Forum | Basile Morin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One such exhibit is a 160-square-meter presentation by Kyoto-based Yumekōbō of the work of Tanabe Chiku’unsai IV, who made a striking impression with a giant bamboo installation at artKYOTO 2020.

The 75-square-meter booths include four distinctive galleries: Maki Gallery, which showcases young foreign artists; Kotaro Nukaga, which will be showing the work of Tomokazu Matsuyama, known for his public art at Shinjuku Station; Takeda Art Co., which represents numerous famous artists; and √K Contemporary, which will be making its debut at the fair with an exhibition of the Mono-ha pioneer Noriyuki Haraguchi, who passed away last year.

One of the biggest names in contemporary Japanese art is Yayoi Kusama. This is her Yellow Pumpkin, on display in Naoshima. | ©

Drawing on the post-corona expertise successfully deployed at artTNZ and artKYOTO last year, the organisers of Art Fair Tokyo are confident that visitors will be able to enjoy the exhibits with peace of mind, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Art Fair Tokyo 2021 will be held in Hall E and the Lobby Gallery of the Tokyo International Forum. The fair opens to the public on Friday March 19th at 1200. Opening hours are Friday March 19th 1200-1900, Saturday March 20th 1200-1900, and Sunday March 21st, 1200-1600.

Tickets cost ¥4000, including sales tax. Tickets must be purchased on-line in advance of the opening day.

Art Fair Tokyo 2021 is offering free or discounted admission to eleven leading Japanese art museums (eight in Tokyo, two in Gunma, and one in Kanagawa). To qualify, just present a digital ticket to Art Fair Tokyo 2021.

Visitors can also experience Art Fair Tokyo virtually through a specially created online version of the fair. VR Art Scope offers a fully scanned replica of the actual venue, perfect for those who prefer not to attend in person, but also great for those who would like to view the exhibits again after their visit. You can watch a video demonstrating how VR Art Scope works here.

For more details, see the official website or call 03 5797 7912.

By - George Lloyd.