An Interview With Kiyoe Hosokawa Of Aya Niseko's Kiyoe Gallery

Find out why the curator of AYA Niseko's new Kiyoe Gallery Niseko is so excited about the galleries first winter season.

Completed in December 2016, AYA Niseko has set out to redefine the standard for luxury condominium hotels in Niseko. With the ski lifts literally steps from their ski valet, a first floor spa and onsen, an indoor gym and first floor restaurant, the list of features goes on.

One of the many exciting features of AYA Niseko is its second floor art gallery. This is a dedicated space with a cozy and quiet atmosphere featuring a range of different exhibits. It was designed with one of its key points being that it is a space that you want to enter.

We were fortunate enough to get a chance to sit down and speak with the gallery curator, Ms. Kiyoe Hosokawa, to take a look at Kiyoe Gallery Niseko through her eyes.

Kiyoe talks about art

Kiyoe speaking about the artwork of Kunimatsu-san (behind).

Experience Niseko: Could you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and how you came to end up here as the curator of Kiyoe Gallery Niseko, Ms. Hosokawa?

Kiyoe: I'm from Hokkaido, originally. I was born in Kitami and went to university here in Hokkaido as well. I went abroad to gain my curator's qualifications and spent some time studying about industry management. It wasn't like I was learning about art at university, but I always liked paintings and drawings from a young age. I guess that's because of my early love of art; paintings have always been a part of my life. Even after entering society as an adult, working and travelling, I would always make time to visit museums and galleries.

After graduating university, I started out working in another industry, but kept feeling that I would like to work in a field that engaged in the arts. I ended up finding a position in a gallery in Sapporo and it was my experience working there that led me to my conviction to open a gallery here in Niseko.

EN: What was it that led you to open your gallery in AYA Niseko?

Kiyoe: It really was a project that came out of collaboration. Initially, the effort began with artist Mr. Kineta Kunimatsu who initially requested my involvement, asking that "we do this together". Mr. Kunimatsu and I sat down and put together a plan for 130 different pieces of artwork. It was a large task and it was daunting to think of how we would put together that many pieces of art. We set about putting together a group of nine artists from around Hokkaido. We really believe that there are some amazing works coming out of Hokkaido artists, but they haven't garnered the attention that they deserve. Part of this was that the individual artists lack the reach potential to draw attention to their works, and to Kunimatsu and I, this felt like a real shame. This was a large part of our aim in creating the Kiyoe Gallery Niseko, to help provide a stage to the amazing things going on here in Hokkaido.

kiyoe gallery at Aya Niseko

Works by Kineta Kunimatsu.

EN: How was it that you went about deciding the contents for the exhibition?

Kiyoe: Kiyoe Gallery Niseko's first exhibition is featuring the nine artists that collaborated towards bringing about all of the works that make AYA Niseko what it is today. Works of seven of these artists can be seen in various places around the hotel, in rooms, corridors, and other spaces. Our first exhibition will be ending at the end of February. In the future, I would like to introduce works of more artists who are creating works that are relevant to Hokkaido as much as possible. Of course, we need to keep in mind the ever changing interests of the many guests and visitors to Niseko, but we also expect that Niseko and Hokkaido as the theme and subject of the pieces we feature will be a big draw card for many of our guests. At the end of the day, Kiyoe Gallery Niseko is not a seasonal or rental gallery, as such I plan to ensure that the works that are featured in our space live up to the quality and standards that I hope for.

EN: Could you tell us about an artist who you like and where you place importance on their work?

Kiyoe: I might pick Mr. Fujita Tsuguhara as his style is delicate, featuring elements of Japanese painting styles, even coming close to Japanese anime styles in some works, but not quite going as far as to fall into that realm and style. His works, although older, look fresh and unique even now. At the time that he was creating art, the trend within the Japanese art scene leaned towards impressionism or cubism. This was disappointing to Tsuguhara as the style didn't speak to him and he felt he couldn't live without going with what his heart yearned to create. In any age, you might call one who goes against the general consensus of an era bold or even a genius.

I also really like the works of Chagall, although his works can be a bit much for some. When you first see one of his pieces, his inspirations and the colours he uses really jump out and catch the eye. When I look at a whole set of his works, I like to come back to appreciate the pieces that stood out for me. I like to go back and re-read his pieces captions after considering it carefully. Rather than letting the title and caption frame the way I look at the piece, I like to let my eyes take in the colours and feelings of the painting before hearing what has been said of the painting.

Kiyoe Gallery Current Exhibition

A look inside the gallery.

Kiyoe Gallery Current Exhibition

A calm and open space where one can firmly face each work.

EN: What direction do you see Kiyoe Gallery Niseko moving in the future?

Kiyoe: I think that the direction the gallery will take overlaps a bit with our earlier discussion. I have a desire to try and keep featured artists related to Hokkaido and that these artists be the foundation of the gallery, whether they are from within Hokkaido or not. I think that this way forward will also resonate with our visitors. Of course, this isn't to say that I wouldn't consider bringing in the works of artists who don't fit within this framework. Ultimately, I want to create a space that features interesting, thought-provoking works.

EN: What are some of the pleasures that come from running the gallery?

Kiyoe: So far it has been really fun and enjoyable, especially as Niseko attracts such a unique range of customers. I think that Japanese people still have a somewhat poor understanding of art, and often tend to hesitate when it comes to purchasing art, for example. I think that while the threshold of what we are featuring is a bit high, many of the visitors from overseas appear more familiar and appreciative of the works we have on display than I initially expected. That has been really exciting for me to see. I think that it is much easier to showcase and recommend contemporary art here in Niseko, especially in winter, as it is an international resort and that makes managing it even more enjoyable!

Interviewing with kiyoe

Our interview with Kiyoe inside the gallery.

EN: What is your view of the Niseko art scene?

Kiyoe: Well, I only have just arrived here in Niseko, so it is a bit tough to see everything with perfect clarity. I think that the Niseko art scene still has a lot of potential to become even more active. I truly feel that art is necessary everywhere, isn't it? I do think that there is a bit of a temperature difference between what a Japanese person might view as art and what a traveler might see and feel. For a traveler, they might be looking for snow or landscapes, or something that is exceptionally 'Japanese' or which captures the essence of Hokkaido. In order for a piece to become memorable and to remain with someone, it must somehow reach and involve them when the view it. Of course, it is difficult to display something that will speak to everyone, but I believe it is my task to try and bridge this gap.

EN: Could you share with us any future goals or dreams you hope to accomplish?

Kiyoe: As there are not many adequately sized galleries in the Niseko area, I would really like my gallery to display only the best works. If at all possible I would like to be able to do this without compromise. With the next exhibition approaching, I am forced to spend each day searching for new and interesting works to display and this doesn't leave me with much idle time. I also hope that I can become a cornerstone to collaboration here within the region and to positively raising the impression of Niseko's art scene.

Manager of Kiyoe gallery

Kiyoe Gallery Niseko's Curator: Ms. Kiyoe Hosokawa

AYA Niseko's Kiyoe Gallery Niseko's Opening Exhibition

Exhibition Dates:

13Dec 2016 - 28 Feb 2017

Featured Artists:

Kineta Kunimatsu

Sachiko Kunimatsu

Season Lao

Yuhi Kazama

Rikiya Oizumi

Harumi Kodama

Midori Imazu

About Kiyoe Gallery Niseko's Second Exhibition

Exhibition Dates:

March 5th to May 7th

Teaser from Kiyoe:

The next exhibition will focus on ceramics and pottery works. I hope to put together an exhibition featuring a range of works which we might not usually get a chance to view. We will be featuring works of a range of artists, whose names we will keep hidden for the time being. We will be releasing more information soon!

Kiyoe Gallery Niseko

044-0081 Abuta District, Kutchan Town, Aza-Yamada 195-1, AYA Niseko, 2nd Floor