White light: first look at Galerie Perrotin’s Tokyo outpost, designed by André Fu
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Tokyo’s contemporary art scene is undeveloped, compared to the crowds flocking to Shanghai and Beijing, Seoul and Hong Kong in the last five years. Local gallerists offer different theories as to why Tokyo’s scene hasn’t made an international impact —from the lack of large exhibition spaces to the preference for traditional art forms – but Galerie Perrotin might be set to stir things up as it opens its first space in Japan, in the district of Roppongi.
Previously known as for its dynamic international community and salacious nightlife, Roppongi has more recently become home to several renowned galleries, forging a burgeoning arts hub in the metropolis. It’s the Parisian gallery’s third space in Asia, in addition to locations in Hong Kong and Seoul.
Founder Emmanuel Perrotin enlisted the help of André Fu to helm the design for the Tokyo gallery. ‘André Fu has already designed Perrotin gallery in Hong Kong in 2012. The simple fact of working again with the same architect is truly a proof of mutual trust, as it’s a very demanding collaboration,’ Perrotin told us.
The 140 q ft gallery is a pristine white cube flanked by floor-to-ceiling glass, with a more intimate, discreet entrance — in keeping with local architecture and custom – and occupies a ground floor space within the Piramide building, a complex that houses acclaimed Tokyo galleries OTA Fine Arts, Wako Works of Art and Zen Foto, as well as restaurants and retail. As the only gallery on the street level, Fu and AFSO sought to create harmony between the urban surroundings and the understated interiors, as well as between the Tokyo aesthetic and Perrotin’s established brand.
Providing a sanctuary from the city life, Fu has also incorporated a salon area — no doubt informed by his work at luxury hotels such as Villa La Coste in Provence, Singapore’s Fullerton Bay Hotel, and the Berkeley London – where visitors and clients can relax and discuss the art at ease.
‘You know I am in love with architecture, it is so appealing to me,’ Perrotin says of the process, ‘and I learned a lot with André, as he is such into details and subtle perception of the spaces.’ The details come from above and below: a sophisticated lighting system optimises the viewing experience, with luxuriant solid washed oak floorboards underfoot.
Ahead of the grand opening on 7 June, Perrotin enthuses, ‘I am very happy of our collaboration with André Fu/AFSO for our new gallery in Tokyo, his modernist design responds very well to the gallery’s distinct identity and location.’ An exhibition by Hollande-approved, 97-year-old Pierre Soulages will inaugurate the space – a sound choice, given Japan’s ongoing love affair with all things French.
Galerie Perrotin Tokyo opens on 7 June. For more information, visit the website (opens in new tab)
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Charlotte Jansen is a journalist and the author of two books on photography, Girl on Girl (2017) and Photography Now (2021). She is commissioning editor at Elephant magazine and has written on contemporary art and culture for The Guardian, the Financial Times, ELLE, the British Journal of Photography, Frieze and Artsy. Jansen is also presenter of Dior Talks podcast series, The Female Gaze.
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