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Atsuko Tanaka Retrospective at Ikon Gallery and Curator Talks

Date: 27 July 2011 - 11 September 2011
Exhibition: The Art of Connecting at Ikon Gallery

Date: 27 July 2011
The Art of Connecting: Curator Talk by Mizuho Kato & Jonathan Watkins at the Japan Foundation

Date: 9 September 2011
Atsuko Tanaka and Japanese Women Artists in the Context of Conceptualism: Curator Talk by Yuko Hasegawa at the Japan Foundation

The 11th September saw the close of the Atsuko Tanaka retrospective The Art of Connecting, after a very successful run at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. The result of a long-running collaboration between the Japan Foundation, Ikon Gallery, Espai d’art contemporani de Castelló and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, The Art of Connecting was arguably the most comprehensive survey to date of work by Atsuko Tanaka.

As well as the exhibition, the Japan Foundation and Ikon gallery co-organised two events, to mark both the opening and the closing of the exhibition at Ikon Gallery. For the first of these, curator Mizuho Kato came to London, as well as Jonathan Watkins, Director of Ikon Gallery, and together they introduced the life and work of the artist. Providing a background to the comprehensive retrospective offered by the exhibition, they went on to discuss too the continued relevance of her work today. The format of this event was particularly well received, with one audience member commenting “Because it was a conversation, we could learn things otherwise hidden in formal vehicles […] - in this case, aspects of the relationship between Jiro Yoshihara [founder of the Gutai] and Atsuko Tanaka.”

The closing of the exhibition was marked by a visit to the Japan Foundation from another member of the curatorial team, Yuko Hasegawa, also Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. Concerned not only with Atsuko Tanaka, Hasegawa discussed other female artists of the period, and in particular how their activities can be regarded in the context of conceptualism. The audience then proceeded to offer Hasegawa a number of insightful questions, giving her the opportunity to expand on her talk, and share more of her extensive specialist knowledge.

The exhibition now moves to the Espai d’art contemporani de Castelló in Spain, where it shall remain until its return to the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, early next year.

Pictured LR: Yuko Hasegawa, Jonathan Watkins, Mizuho Kato