In my family we call him Mai-san with special sympathy. Therefore I continue to use this way of calling in this essay, though for native speakers the use of his first name Albrecht might be more adequate to express sympathy.
Mai-san is a very charming and wonderful person. In the context of ShimoumArt Mai-san is introduced as "art collector". It is true that he collects art works together with his partner Jørgen-san and has a good network among artists and art directors in Japan though he does not live in Japan even full three years. However, his personality is not limited to art collection and I find it more appropriate to call him a man of culture.
Mai-san organized "ShimoumArt" exhibition of young Japanese artists for the second time from 24 March to 2 April in "café kitchen gardenn" and we participated in the party to contact artists and friends of art on 1 April.
We knew each other already when I was living in Copenhagen. Mai-san is a German, though he lived long in Copenhagen. At the time Mai-san was employed as cultural advisor at the German Embassy, present virtually at all important social and cultural occasions in Copenhagen and popular especially among ladies from high society.
I knew that he enjoyed the stay in Japan including the visit to flea markets in Tokyo. However, I did not imagine that he has become a prominent figure in the Japanese art world to organize exhibitions with Japanese artists.
Café kitchen gardenn is a comfortable restaurant in Shimouma district, where Mai-san lives. Mai-san discovered this restaurant in the first evening of his arrival while he was looking for a place to take dinner. The name of the exhibition ShimoumArt is, as you can easily understand, the combination of the place name "Shimouma" and "art" and thereby "mart" is duly implied.
In the first ShimoumArt, which was held between 11 December and 26 December last year, four artists participated: Sho Ohashi, Ei Ozawa, Jinta Hasegawa and Shingo Kanagawa. This time Azusa Komoda, Marisa Shimamoto, Takashi Nakajima and Shotaro Yoshino participated.
First of all I want to thank Mai-san for his efforts to organize art exhibitions in our daily neighborhood. I believe I am slightly more familiar with art than average Japanese people. However, even for me it is not usual to visit art galleries and see the works of young artists, because art galleries have special atmosphere and ordinary people hesitate to enter the space which looks somewhat snobbish and exclusive. On the other hand, official art museums are less prohibitive for visitors, but they usually show only the works of established and often very old and deceased artists. They are the object of appreciation but they are away from daily life and the purchase of those works is out of question.
Exhibitions in an ordinary restaurant in residential area offer good occasions to the neighbors to come into contact with art. However, such exhibitions are not held so frequently. Therefore, I want to thank Mai-san for his efforts to realize ShimoumArt, in particular in the time when thousands of foreigners including his compatriots are evacuating from Japan in face of the accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.
During the party I had a chance to talk with Shimamoto Marisa-san and Yoshino Shotaro-san and saw their works. Shimamoto-san is a photographer. She works in various fields and everywhere her fresh and delicate sensitivity impresses me. Yoshino-san makes sculpture with concrete and metal in minimalistic way. They both display in ShimoumArt only small works due to the limitation of space, but they are good introductions into their art-world and among others small works are easily purchasable!
To my surprise I could meet Takano Ryudai-san and his manager Chiba Yumiko-san again and for the first time in Japan. Takano-san is a photographer and I met him when he participated in a photo exhibition in Copenhagen three years ago, when he exhibited a series of very impressive photos of young male nude where he himself was one of the photo models. His impressive photos attracted the attention of Danish photo-lovers including Mai-san. Chiba-san, president of "Yumiko Chiba Associates", accompanied Takano-san to Denmark. However, their friendship with Mai-san started when he visited the exhibition Takano-san in Japan. They came to the party though Takano-san does not exhibit his works at ShimoumArt.
I met another owner of an art gallery, Hashimoto Kagari-san (Hashimoto Art Office) during the small party. She came to the party because she has good contacts with Mai-san. What impressed me was that she started gallery and art office from the scratch and works now as successful company owner. I admire her especially because I have lived for decades as employee and never tried to work on my own. Nowadays, I often feel that women are more active and aggressive than men in realizing their own ideal, while Japanese young men are nowadays often described as "plant eating animals" because they are gentle but timid and weak in character. The future of Japan will be borne by women!
Mai-san will leave Japan in September to return home in Denmark. I wish he can organize at least another ShimoumArt during his stay in Japan and maintain his good contacts with Japanese artists even after he returns home.