This year, Roppongi’s art cred was raised to new heights with the opening of the Complex665 building (6-5-24 Roppongi, Minato-ku), which houses a trifecta of influential galleries: Tomio Koyama, ShugoArts and Taka Ishii. The building sits on a residential back street tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Roppongi, but is hard to miss thanks to what appears to be a squiggle painted on its side. This symbol is the logo designed for Complex665 by artist Yoshihisa Tanaka, who imagined how a ‘fictional artist named 665 might sign their own work’.
Also on the second floor is ShugoArts, who have championed the avant-garde of Japanese art since the mid-’80s. Their gallery was designed by architect Jun Aoki, also responsible for facelifting the façade of the Louis Vuitton building in Ginza. Unlike their flatmates, ShugoArts keep the shop open on Sundays.
And for the ‘Peanuts’ fans out there, Roppongi has a Snoopy Museum, showcasing Charles M Schulz’s original drawings and art for the beloved series. A number of the cartoonist’s early works, vintage collectibles and other materials are also on display.
Just a stone’s throw away from Archi-Depot lies the striking art supplies ‘laboratory’ Pigment, designed by Kuma and inspired by the look and feel of bamboo. It stocks more than 4,500 colour pigments, 50 kinds of animal glues, and a number of top-quality traditional painting tools including over 200 antique ink sticks. The staff are all well-versed in the intricacies of the products and are happy to show you how to use them.
As the former and current residents of neighbourhoods like London’s Shoreditch and New York’s Brooklyn will tell you, gentrification is a double-edged sword that tears through the old to make way for the new. Whichever side of the third wave café/local caff divide you’re on, the number and density of art galleries is often a good litmus test for how far a neighbourhood has come down the line. Less than half an hour apart, Roppongi and Tennozu Isle offer two different cases to study for those interested in the sociocultural effects of Tokyo’s urban planning. Or you could just look at the art.
Terrada's main warehouse (2-6-10 Higashi-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku) is holding an exhibition on David Bowie from January 8 to April 9 – be sure to get your tickets in advance.
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