S.H.C. TOKYOFounded by Seth High in 1999, the gallery's principle focus is the promotion of an international group of contemporary artists, whose work utilizes a diverse array of media - including but not limited to photography, painting, video, writing, performance, installation and sticky 'new media'. In particular, S.H.Contemporary gallery has steadily built a reputation for its strong support of artists who use photography in surprising, unconventional ways. Primarily representing young, under-exposed talent, many of our artists are not yet internationally known despite the fact that each has exhibited in both gallery and museum contexts. S.H.Contemporary takes great pride in introducing these artists to a wider audience. As a member of the Art Dealers Association of East Asia (ADAEA), the gallery subscribes to the highest standards of service, scholarship and gallerism.
HistoryS.H.Contemporary was built on the site of the historic Abe Warehouse, which burnt down in the massive fires that resulted from the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. In addition to killing 7 workers, the blaze decimated nearly the entire modern art collection of Naoya Abe, an eccentric industrialist, amateur photographer, and 3rd generation politician. Paintings by Kazimir Malevich, Franz Marc, and Claude Monet, 5,000 woodblock prints by the likes of Hokkusai and Hiroshige, a Bentley 3.0 liter, and dozens of modernist furniture pieces were all lost to the flames. The location was selected, however, based on much more than just history. The Hatsudai area, home to the Opera City Gallery, Kenji Taki Gallery, Wako Works of Art and the InterCommunication Center, is a hub of Tokyo's burgeoning contemporary art scene.
ArchitectureThe current building, designed by Higahizawa Ryohei, takes cues from the original warehouse as well from the minimalist work of John Pawson. Opening in 1999, the structure is notable for its extensive use of moving interior walls, which can be used to expand either gallery space or outdoor courtyards. These have been a trademark of Higashizawa's work since the mid-1980's. Moreover, the gallery features seven distinct lighting environments, from 100% naturally-lit spaces to rooms that are entirely fluorescent. This ensures that every piece will receive the lighting that the artist envisioned. The exhibition rooms that form the heart of the gallery are masked by an exterior that intentionally resembles a typical Tokyo apartment building. This surprising contrast enhances the art-viewing experience and allows the structure to humbly blend in with its neighbors.
Coming in 2014...S.H.Contemporary is currently working with the Tokyo Metropolitan Subway Network to realize an original art installation by Candy Sebald, which will consist of a window in the basement of the gallery that looks onto the tracks of the Oedo Subway Line (which runs directly below S.H.Contemporary). The project, if okayed by the local government, is slated for completion in the spring of 2014.
Visitation by Appointment Only
Address: 4-6-1, Honmachi Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
S.H.C. ZermattWhile S.H.Contemporary's Tokyo exhibition space is a hollow, shape-shifting white box, the Zermatt gallery is a solid pyramid of stone and ice. The Matterhorn, Europe's middle finger, is as much of an idea as it is a physical place. Snow-covered and treacherous to climbers year-round, the rocky peak symbolizes the natural world's ultimate triumph over human endeavor. It also happens to be barcode-free and a physical border between Switzerland and Italy.
HistoryS.H.Contemporary, weighed down by the bonanza of Tokyo metropolitano, always desired a sister-gallery, a place sun-lit in the imagination and unreachable by motorcoach, motorcar and motorcade. Our deputy had a plan and good American climbing equipment - Danner, Black Diamond and JC Penney. Setting off from the Mayo Musil Lodge in the heart of Zermatt, adventurer, alpinist and writer of sour blog, Nicholson Bernhard, steadily ascended the Hornli Ridge on what he expected to be his 4th successful solo climb of the only horn that matters.
Taking a short break several hundred meters below the dryly glaring peak, Bernhard joked to himself, "Climbing is a tricky art, and art is always a tricky climb." After tightening his crampons and demolishing a Pay Day candy bar (packed with nuts), our sunburned representative re-focused on his goal and began shuffling towards the summit.
Miraculously getting reception at the roof (ceiling?) of Europe, Nicholson twitted from his iPhone, "The new gallery is up here. It's a good place to look out from. Lot's of space but little room to wriggle." Tagging his location by GPS, he began his lonely and dangerous descent.