Artist File 2013:The NACT Annual Show of Contemporary Art


The Artist File is an ongoing series of contemporary art exhibitions that was launched when the National Art Center, Tokyo first opened. Artists are not chosen to fit in with any particular theme, rather they are selected from both Japan and abroad on the basis of interest and relevance, and their work is presented as a group of small solo shows in the exhibition space.

This exhibition, the fifth in the series, features eight artists including three from overseas. They are a diverse group both in terms of age (ranging from those in their 30s to their 60s) and in terms of media, including painting, photography, video, and installation. What ties them together is their dedication to their work, their will to earnestly confront social and personal issues, and their drive to explore the limitless possibilities of artistic expression. We sincerely hope that this exhibition will provide not only exciting encounters with the latest in contemporary art, but also an opportunity to turn a tranquil gaze upon the complex and fascinating world we live in today.

Dates January 23 (Wed.) - April 1 (Mon.), 2013
Closed on Tuesdays
Opening hours 10:00 - 18:00
(Fridays 10:00 - 20:00) Last admission: 30 minutes before closing
Venue The National Art Center, Tokyo, Special Exhibition Gallery 2E
7-22-2 Roppongi Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Organized by The National Art Center, Tokyo
Admission(tax included)
General 1,000yen (Adults), 500yen (College Students)
Advance 800yen (Adults), 300yen (College Students)
Group 800yen (Adults), 300yen (College Students)
  • Admission is free for high school students and those under 18, as well as those with physical disability certificates and one accompanying person.
  • Free admission on March 23 (Sat.) in conjunction with “Roppongi Art Night 2013”.
  • Group tickets are available only at the venue (discounts only applicable to groups of 20 or more).
  • Visitors who present a ticket or ticket stub from another special exhibition currently underway at the National Art Center, Tokyo, the Suntory Museum or the Mori Art Museum (the three facilities that make up the Roppongi Art Triangle) will be eligible for the discounted group rate.
  • Advance tickets can be available until January 22 (Tue.), but at the venue until January 21 (Mon).
  • General and advance tickets may also be purchased through Ticket Pia (P-code:765-342) and Lawson Ticket (L-code:37648).
  • For Students, faculty and staff, of "Campus Members", group discounts are applied for purchasing tickets.
  • Credit card (UC, Master Card, VISA, JCB, AMEX, Diners Club, DISCOVER) and e-cash (Suica, PASMO, ICOCA, etc.) and iD and J-Debit and UnionPay are available for purchasing tickets.
  • For details and the latest information on related events, see the center website:
Inquiries TEL: (+81) 3-5777-8600 (Hello Dial)

Exhibition Highlights

Artist File

This year’s exhibition is the fifth in the Artist File series, which was launched in 2008. Artist File is an ongoing project that aims to satisfy one of the NACT’s primary objectives: to introduce the public to new currents in contemporary art. In each event, several artists are selected from among those recommended by the NACT’s curators, and their work presented in the form of a series of solo shows within the exhibition space so as to provide a well-rounded, in-depth portrait of art today.

Dynamic presentation of diverse creative endeavors

The artists were not selected according to a particular theme. This allows the project to bring together the widest possible range of innovative and intriguing artists working in various fields. An expansive 2,000-square-meter exhibition space with eight-meter ceilings is partitioned into independent zones, which individual artists transform into their own worlds. As in previous years, this year’s exhibition features art in a wide range of media, from painting to photography, video and large-scale installation, with each of the eight artists showcased both thoughtfully and dynamically.

A multi-national, multi-generational selection of artists

No limits are imposed on age or nationality. This year’s Artist File exhibition features five Japanese artists and three artists hailing from the U.K., India and South Korea, respectively. The group is diverse in age as well, ranging from their 30s to their 60s. The goal is to showcase both work by young, up-and-coming creators and new directions being taken by established artists who have long careers but have had a few opportunity to present their work at a major show at Japanese museums.

A wealth of new work on view

Of the eight artists featured, six are exhibiting new work. Azumatei Jun, Kagabu Shiho and Kuniyasu Takamasa present large-scale installations, which capitalize on the massive scale of the venue. Painter Nakazawa Hideaki has created dozens of new paintings for the show. Shiga Lieko’s new photographs were just exhibited for the first time in Sendai in November 2012, and Nalini Malani’s video installation recently made waves at Documenta 13.

Artists’ work and information exhaustively archived

“Artist File” is not merely the title of the exhibition. One of the project’s primary aims is literally to create files containing information on the featured artists. The Artist File exhibition catalog consists of eight volumes, one on each artist, containing color plates along with detailed biographies, bibliographies, and critical essays. An illustrated record of the exhibition will also be assembled while it is on view (to be sold separately). In addition, NACT will continue to amass information on each artist in the future, adding to an archive that already contains resources on 40 artists.


Born in 1971 in Wigan, England
Lives and works in London
One of the most prominent artists in the U.K. today, Darren Almond made a splash as the youngest artist in the Sensation group show of 1997, which might be seen as the zenith of the iconoclastic YBAs (Young British Artists) who took that nation by storm in the 1990s. Since then he has been highly active both in Britain and internationally, showing in venues such as the Venice Biennale (2003) and the Tate Triennial (2009). Executed in a wide range of media, including photography, sculpture and video, Almond’s work, dealing with time, memory, and travel, overflows with a lyrical and contemplative beauty. In this exhibition, his video piece If I Had You (2005), which was shortlisted for the Turner Prize, will be shown along with his Fullmoons series of visionary photographs shot in numerous locations worldwide.
Born in 1973 in Tokyo
Lives and works in Basel, Switzerland
Azumatei Jun weaves myriad aspects of the intersections and divisions between “recording” and “remembering” into works of art that communicate a singular vision. He layers acrylic paint and varnish atop photographs and buffs them to a fine polish with sandpaper, producing distinctive multimedia paintings in which natural phenomena like skies and clouds that presumably were captured clearly by the camera are transformed into gorgeous yet impalpable phantoms. Since moving to Europe in 2009, Azumatei has been painting on old sheets stretched over wooden frames with varnish applied, producing innovative textural effects. The varnish soaks into the sheets, producing ghostly patterns and rendering the sheets translucent so that the eye is led to the wooden frame and the wall visible through them. These paintings are simultaneously flat and multi-layered, implying a temporal dimension in which we can seemingly trace the memories of the unknown person to whom the sheets once belonged. For this exhibition, he has created an installation that presents his new paintings in a unique format.
Yeondoo JUNG
Born in 1969 in Jinju, South Korea
Lives and works in Seoul, South Korea
Highly active on the international scene, with past exhibitions including the Venice Biennale (2005) and the Taipei Biennial (2006), Yeondoo JUNG is one of South Korea’s foremost contemporary artists. Created without using computer graphics, his unique photographs and videos depict an entirely new reality, a fantasy realm at the crossroads of the real and the fictional. Yeondoo’s working method always entails communication with others, and the results shed a warm light on the dreams and humble day-to-day existence of ordinary people. For the Artist File exhibition, he presents his Wonderland series of staged photographs based on children’s drawings and his Handmade Memories, a video work reinterpreting episodes related by elderly people from South Korea.
Born in 1981 in Kanagawa Prefecture
Lives and works in Kanagawa Prefecture
Kagabu Shiho creates installations using almost any kind of material available to her, including found scraps, store-bought items, on-site objects, video images, drawings, and words. The places where she shows her works are also highly varied and include museums, galleries, houses, vacant shops, and factories. By forming a link between the materials and in turn with the place, Kagabu realizes a tension-filled, temporary space. In some cases, she also adds her own body to the work to create a performance. In this way, Kagabu deconstructs or restructures the relationships that bind to the world, which are attempts to capture a real sense of the present.
Born in 1957 in Hokkaido Prefecture
Lives and works in Ibaraki Prefecture
Kuniyasu Takamasa’s earliest works consisted of regular modular units, but in the mid-’80s he began fabricating massive structures out of ceramic blocks and logs. These were neither detached sculptures nor installations consisting of multiple works. Rather, they were constructions that seemed to sprout organically from interior spaces, buildings or features of the natural terrain and self-reproduce, the strange fruits of Kuniyasu’s unique methodology. In recent years, he has primarily focused on site-specific outdoor works, so it will be intriguing to see what he creates in an indoor venue – especially when that venue is The National Art Center, Tokyo.
Born in 1946 in Karachi (then part of India, now in Pakistan)
Lives and works in Mumbai/Bombay, India
Building up innumerable layers of fragmentary images into dreamlike and allegorical pictures and videos, Nalini Malani is one of India’s best-known contemporary artists. While Malani’s work can be interpreted as a series of phantasmagorical tales steeped in exoticism, they are also charged with her critiques of the violence, repression and contradiction that plague contemporary society, and there are numerous possible interpretations open to the viewer. After starting her career as a painter, she began to work with video, installation and performance in the 1990s, and has remained a highly active force not only in India but also on the international art scene. This exhibition features her paintings as well as a new video installation that was shown at Documenta 13 (2012).
Born in 1955 in Niigata Prefecture
Lives and works in Gifu Prefecture
Having studied oil painting techniques and materials at Tokyo University of the Arts, Nakazawa Hideaki consistently employs a painstaking tempera painting process. In recent years, he has produced a long series of mug-shot-like portraits of children on standard-sized canvases with monochromatic backgrounds. These are very realistically rendered, yet the children wear expressions somehow disconnected from reality, and while they may appear charming at first, an icy and even poisonous miasma pervades the pictures. Nakazawa’s paintings combining oil paint and tempera feature a highly distinctive surface, which appears to be an indispensable element of his working process.
Born in 1980 in Aichi Prefecture
Lives and works in Miyagi Prefecture
The photography of Shiga Lieko, who drew widespread attention with her 2007 photo book Canary, possesses a stunning power that upends the viewer’s expectations. For Shiga, taking photographs is a ritualistic act that lays bare the very roots of human existence, riddled with contradictions and conflict between the body, fated for death, and the mind that longs for life. In producing images, she thoroughly researches the locations for her photographs and seems to make them one with her own flesh and blood. In the process of distorting and destroying images and then weaving them back together again, she poses fundamental questions about the meaning of human life. Shiga studied in London and has worked in numerous locations worldwide. Since 2009, she has lived in the Kitakama district of Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, which suffered damage in the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011. Her photos in this exhibition, the first new work she has shown in four years, were shot in the city.
Artist Talks
Jan.24(Thu.) 14:00-15:30 Darren ALMOND
Jan.25(Fri.) 17:30-19:00 Yeondoo JUNG
Jan.27(Sun.) 13:30-15:00 Nalini MALANI
Jan.27(Sun.) 15:30-17:00 AZUMATEI Jun
Feb.16(Sat.) 14:00-15:30 KUNIYASU Takamasa
Mar. 2(Sat.) 14:00-15:30 NAKAZAWA Hideaki
Mar. 9(Sat.) 14:00-15:30 KAGABU Shiho
Feb.24(Sun.) SHIGA Lieko
Mar.23(Sat.) KUNIYASU Takamasa
Mar.23(Sat.) KAGABU Shiho

*Times and content of events are subject to change.