Yesterday, Feb 4, 2015, after a day of editing video for the “Japanese Rock & Roll Ghost Story” movie, we decided to get outside and stretch the legs and the mind. A bit down the road and just across the street is a quaint little gallery that we always pass by named Akiyama Gallery. You can find Akiyama Gallery here:

As we walked by I noticed a name of the front plaque. It said, artist “Endo Toshikatsu” (遠藤利克) and I thought, “Hey! I know this artist! In fact, I was just looking at his name card yesterday.”

toshikazu endo

It’s true! By sheer coincidence, I saw this name card and, because of the Kanji and the fact that this is an artist, I guess we must have met somewhere before. I am always looking for great places to use as sets for artist interviews, or great backdrops for video shoots or TV shows. And, I always try to find coincidence in my life and use it to my advantage, so, we decided to enter the gallery.

Entering the gallery was like entering another world; it was like entering another universe; not a heavenly or peaceful one like you’d see in the movies; it was a world of heaviness and, well, fear. There, in the middle of this large, empty white space, was a giant burnt out hull of what seems to be a giant bath or a washbasin. It reeked of the smell of tar. What kind of monstrosity was this? Is this the art exhibit?

We walked in and I signed my named on the guest list at the door. Soon, we were greeted by the lovely and most gracious Ms. Akiyama Tazuko  (秋山田津子)who gave us a short guided tour of the work of art that sat in the middle of the room. It was a giant burnt out wash basin. It looked as if it were the wash basin of colossal gods of tens of hundreds of thousand years ago, burnt out and now lifeless; the death of an ancient civilization in front of our eyes.

I peered over the edge of the work and into the pit at the bottom.

“What is that oil smell?”” It permeated everything in the room. It reeked like the smell of a construction crew laying asphalt on a road or an oil drilling site.

“It is tar.” Ms. Akiyama cooly answered.

I stood back. The sight and smell encapsulating my entire body and mind. It reminded me of the Tar Pits of La Brea where animals and plant life of the Pleistocene Garden of the Ice Age find they are preserved forever in the pits of tar.

As I stood there trying to take it all in and digest what I was seeing, it hit me, “This is scary,” I said. And I meant it.

This work of art made me feel a sense of fear. Of fear of what? I do not know. Death, perhaps? But I definitely felt fear. Perhaps it was the kind of fear that the saber toothed tigers felt when they were trapped in the tar pits of La Brea; struggling to get out. But the more they struggle, the deeper they sink… Or perhaps it was a fear that I had stumbled into another world; a world of the gods where I was not wanted nor welcomed. It was a place where those much greater than I had dwelt; and they were all dead. What does that mean for me if the immortal ones have long since died and their lives burned away? Was the a picture of our collective future?

We watched for a while. Watching what, I do not fully understand… and then we were off.

That was 24 hours ago; I can still smell that art display and imagine that, next time I smell tar or asphalt, the memory will come rushing back to me; even if I don’t want it to; like some pre-historic animal trapped in tar and sinking fast.

Endo Toshikazu art


The Endo Toshikatsu exhibit runs from Feb. 2, 2015 ~ Feb. 28 from 12:00 ~ 19:00. Admission is free. Definitely bring a camera! 遠藤利克 2015年2月22日(月)〜 2月28日(土)12:00〜19:00 Closed Sundays and holidays

Akiyama Gallery is at: 3-7-6 Sendagaya, Shibuya Ku, Tokyo. 〒151-0051 E-mail information: (Akiyama Gallery is closest to Kita-Sando station on the Fukutoshin Line).

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