Artist Kengo Nakamura is the director of the “GIFT of ART” exhibit at the Global Closet Gallery of Isetan Shinjuku (2F). Till Dec 31.

A display of Nakamura’s works at the “XYZ” exhibit held at the MEGUMI OGITA GALLERY jump-started this project directed by Nakamura himself. This month’s lineup is largely Christmas-inspired. Nakamura says, “The showcasing and selling of art in department stores is a uniquely Japanese culture, but this project takes it one step further by putting it into practice on the fashion floors.” While purchased art in general tends to reach the purchaser on a later date by mail, this exhibit allows some purchased pieces to be taken home on the spot.

Nakamura commented, “Art is usually perceived as something to be appreciated, but this exhibition presents a rare opportunity to review pieces from the standpoint of ‘Do I want to own it or not?’, ‘Will it look good in my room?’ and so on. The title of the exhibit may also encourage people to consider ‘art as a gift for someone’ ”.

Nakamura uses traditional Nihonga (Japanese art) methods to create distinctive paintings inspired by motifs familiar to anyone living in the present-day era; manga speech bubbles and character silhouettes, floor plans of studio apartments, the “Re:” signifying a text response. He has held department store art gallery exhibits in the past, but this is his first time to showcase art on fashion floors. Nakamura’s work “Ourselves in Today’s World” (472,500 yen) is mounted on the wall behind the floor register as a backdrop to the sales clerks going about their work. An interesting aspect of the exhibit is the merging of art with store elements such as fashion items and staff.

“With regards to creative activities, I attach a great deal of importance to the sense of ‘living in the now’, like my e-mail inspired ‘Re:’ and pieces inspired through floor plans in housing magazines. I try to create works that link such ‘current’ images to art stretching back through history. Contemporary art is ‘art by people living in the current era’. No one can tell if the artist will become famous or die in obscurity. And for that reason, to obtain a piece of contemporary art is to participate in the act of making history, together with the artist. I hope this exhibition will serve as an opportunity for people to visit art galleries, too.”