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The Absence of Mark Manders’ in the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo

Mark Manders is an artist who occupies a unique position in the contemporary art scene, and will be holding his first solo exhibition in Japan at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. This will be a valuable opportunity to gain a deep appreciation of Manders’ work and his unique style.

Art can be the point of connection between an artist and an audience who have lived through the same times. In this exhibition, instead of simply understanding, allow yourself to feel the various ‘frozen moments’ that are presented by Mark Manders; they will surely expand your imagination and unlock your enjoyment of the unique pleasures of contemporary art.

An intriguing installation where fact and fiction overlap

The exhibition has origins in a novel idea: although the artwork is in a sense a self-portrait, instead of a regular painting, Manders has created an installation of an imaginary building. The main character is a fictionalized version of the artist himself, with the same name. However, the fictional artist, Mark Manders, seems to be absent. Where has he gone?


There is a sharp contrast between the crumbling textures that seemed to have been weathered by time and the luster of the clay that seems to have been freshly made. Tension is taut between the various parts, which sit in unexpected formations, on uncomfortable scales…
One of the great attractions of Manders’ works is his ability to create a space where fact and fiction can interact. While the audience have the actual artwork in front of them, they are still led to feel the strange sensation of being in an imaginary room.
Mark Manders began working on ideas for this exhibition back in March 2019, and had the idea of devoting the entire gallery space on one floor of the museum (1,000 square meters) to a single work. Audiences may expect to find out how this unique world has been scaled up.


Surrender yourself to the world of ‘frozen moments’

Mark Manders was born in 1968 in Volkel, the Netherlands, and currently lives in Ronse, Belgium, where he works in his studio.
The concept of ‘self-portrait as a building’ originally came to him when he was an 18 year old trying to write his autobiography. Across more than 30 years since then, he has consistently pursued this concept in his work.
With this vision, Mark Manders creates an incredibly unique and scaled world. The sculptures and objects placed in rooms of the building are arranged like words in a poem, that as a whole serve as the self-portrait of a fictional artist.


The rooms contain various pieces significant to Manders’ own memories and life, as well as other objects, such as historical art works from different periods and regions. As an audience, experiencing the superimposition of reality and construct, we are invited into a complex emotional experience, and feel as if we have lost sense of time.
This is what Manders calls the ‘frozen moments.’ They leave a deep impression and allow us to travel through our memories and inner world.


This exhibition was constructed from Manders’ personal memories and expertise. He lives in Europe, but he is also a human being living in the same era as us, meaning there must be some way in which his sensitivities and yours are connected. By relaxing and surrendering yourself to his world, rather than being preoccupied by whether or not you understand it as a piece of art, you can begin to feel his sensitivities. This is the first step towards enjoying this exhibition.

See some of Manders’ most noteworthy works in Japan for the first time

The works in this exhibition include some of Manders’ most noteworthy pieces that have been included in all of his important solo exhibitions in recent years. These include his works Nocturnal Garden Scene and Mind Study, which will be exhibited in Japan for the first time, on arranging to borrow from museum collections in Belgium and the Netherlands.


Mind Study was exhibited at Venice Biennale in 2013. Manders also has plans to exhibit a room installation, which he is reportedly very fond of.
For those who enjoyed the works of Manders and Michaël Borremans in their dual exhibition at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa from September 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021, this will be a fascinating opportunity to see Manders’ works from a different perspective. This exhibition will only heighten your interest in the works of Mark Manders.


Title The Absence of Mark Manders
Period Sat. National Holiday. 20 March – Sun. 20 June 2021
Venue Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo Exhibition Gallery 3F
Address 4-1-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0022 Japan
Official Website https://www.mot-art-museum.jp/en/exhibitions/mark-manders/
Opening Hours 10:00-18:00 (Tickets available until 30 minutes before closing.)
Closed Mondays (except 3 May), 6 May
Admission Adults – 1,500yen / University & College Students, Over 65 – 1,000yen / High School & Junior High School Students –600yen / Elementary School Students & Younger – Free

* Ticket includes admission to the MOT Collection exhibition.
* Children younger than elementary school age need to be accompanied by a guardian.
* Persons with a Physical Disability Certificate, Intellectual Disability Certificate, Intellectual Disability Welfare Certificate, or Atomic Bomb Survivor Welfare Certificate as well as up to two attendants are admitted free of charge.
* There are also reserved priority tickets.