The 'Year of the Horse'
galloped off to a good start in the arts with the opening of a new building containing three gallery spaces. GALERIA is a purpose built gallery building in Aoyama, the opening of which was celebrated by each of the galleries simultaneously opening new exhibitions.

The sleek modernist building of steel and glass is an elegant receptacle for contemporary art. The galleries offer clean white spaces, highish ceilings and quality lighting to display the works to their best.

New work by Harutaka Matsumoto, titled '4- ism', celebrates the move of Gallery Gan, formerly in the Ginza area, to the ground floor of the new site in Aoyama. In this series, Matsumoto has paired abstract with realist paintings. At first glance, they appear unrelated depictions of goats and bears hung with an abstraction of a geometric cross.

The number four, however, from the exhibition title, gives the first clue to their connection. Each of the realist canvases contains four fragments. Each of the abstract paintings is divided into four sections. From there, you quickly begin to find more associations, intended or otherwise. Color, space, composition and subject elements begin to connect like and old style telephone switchboard.

Mastumoto handles a variety of styles in his art through skillful manipulation of paint. Some works contain creamy thick applications of paint while others use layers of paint to create depth and realism. Each demonstrates the artist's fluidity and control of his materials.

The Basement level is ironically occupied by Skydoor Gallery. The opening show of paintings and drawings, by Tomokaz Kano, is well suited to the basement setting.

His art is streetwise and gritty. Artist's graffiti -- idea tumbled onto idea -- jumbles of lines, styles, and thoughts. Reminiscent of Jean Paul Basquiat's work, Tomokaz's paintings are an outpouring of his inner thoughts with whatever materials come to hand. Cardboard, wood, bits of paper are the surfaces for frenziedly scratched drawings and paintings.

Displayed from floor to ceiling they give the space an air of late night jazz club. In this setting his work is a soaring but chaotic, sometimes discordant and self-indulgent solo.

On the second floor is Promo-Artre. It has moved from a site next door where Promo-Arte has for years specialized in the art of Latin America and the Caribbean. Continuing this theme, the opening exhibition is a selection of works by Cuban artists. Some of which -- figurative abstractions in greens, browns and oranges -- appears to have been taken from a 70's time capsule.

The works of Sandra Ramos and Jose Bedia, however, stand out. Ramos is represented with a series of collage works, a large painting and a small sculptural installation.

The installation, housed in a suitcase-like plywood box, included a Cuban flag made from colored feathers on one side and a strange seascape on the other. At the base of the box was a strange metamorphic figure -- part baby doll part seashell.

The sea is central to Cuban life and art. Jose Bedia's, painting 'Naufragois', depicts a sinking ship in a wide blue sea. In the foreground a figure swims pursued by a mermaid like form. It is a haunting yet simple illustration.

Gallery GAN, Harutake Matsumoto
Skydoor Gallery, Tomokaz Kano
Promo-Arte Gallery, Latin American Art Lobby

GALERIA, 5-51-3, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku Tel: GAN 03.5468-6311,
Skydoor 03.5485-9573,
Promo 03.3400-1995
Ginza line, Omotesando