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Written by KALONSNET Editor   
Published: December 25 2008

What do you associate with the art of Japan? Perhaps it's Hokusai's Great Wave, Takashi Murakami’s many and varied projects or maybe Yoshitomo Nara's Little Wanderer? In many ways this is merely scratching the surface given that thousands of young artists graduate from Japanese art colleges every year, but don't receive the same international exposure that peers from North America and Europe have come to expect. These graduates are, so to speak, the “elite” of the Japanese arts education system having passed the difficult entrance exams covering both technique and art historical knowledge.

In 21st century Japan, an emerging artist has two routes to becoming a full-time professional. The first is the self-guided route of exhibiting in public exhibitions, such as "Nitten (The Japan Fine Arts Exhibit)" which gives an artist the chance to establish links with a particular commercial gallery as well as reaching a collecting base. This familiar process began in Japan after the Meiji era in the early twentieth century, and still remains deep-rooted today. Personal connections cultivated in the master-apprentice relationship are absolutely indispensable for success in this process, and it is natural to exploit these connections in terms of both technique and style.

More recently, a second type of artist has been emerging, particularly amongst a younger generation of those wishing to escape the traditional system and create works in their own definitive way. They are often called in Japanese “Independent artists”, who make a connection with a gallery and then build a market by themselves. Moreover, new kinds of public exhibitions are appearing which are not linked to the traditional master-apprentice relationship but aim to support and discover talented “independent” young artists. As this new generation develops and increases, the absolute authority of the traditional type of "public exhibition system" is fading in the art world of Japan.

It is clear that these “independent” artists will dominate in the future and the structure of the art market is naturally expected to adapt in order to mirror growing trends. However, in reality the situation is less clear because less than one tenth of over 1,000 galleries in Japan have adapted to this change.

On the other hand, thousands of new artists are graduating from art colleges every year, grasping opportunities that they hope will establish their practice. In the current climate, new artists will have to be even more determined to establish themselves, through a mix of self-promotion, training and utilizing the Japanese spirit of creativity that is in their DNA. Kalonsnet is delighted to encourage and support emerging artists by introducing their practice to the wider art world.

December 25th, 2008

Last Updated on July 26 2019

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