Coastal Vision Takes On Tokyo

Kendra Ahimsa, better known as Ardneks, brings his pivotal exhibition, Coastal Vision, to Tsubame Studio, Tokyo. The exhibition is an extension of the Coastal Vision exhibition he held at Dia.Lo.Gue, Jakarta, around the book of the same name which he published with Jordan, jordan Édition. Made festive with various musical acts from Tsubame Studio, Kendra had previously exhibited his work in Japan before but Coastal Vision marks the first time he has had his work exhibited in the city of Tokyo. Working together with the gallery manager and the recording engineer of Tsubame Studio, the exhibition kicked off on March 20, 2024. Coastal Vision was an introductory exhibition, showcasing long-time works from Kendra’s vast body of work spanning his decade-long career. 

Initially, he had no plans whatsoever to bring Coastal Vision to Japan. “So I had previously made artwork for the Japanese band, Kikagaku Moyo. It turns out that Tsubame Studio’s building has two floors. So there's the gallery space on the lower floor and the upper floor is a recording studio. It turned out that  Kikagaku Moyo recorded their albums at Tsubame Studio’s recording studio,” Kendra began. He continued to explain that Tsubame later held a Kikagaku Moyo poster exhibition which showcased all the posters and artworks used by the band throughout the years they were active, including the poster created by Kendra. “It turns out there was a pretty significant response to my poster,” The gallery manager, took note of the attention Kendra’s poster was garnering and got in contact with him to see if he was interested in exhibiting in their space. “I was happy to do so!” he exclaimed.

Exhibition poster courtesy of Kendra Ahimsa via @ardneks

While Kendra had previously exhibited his work in Osaka, this exhibition was the first time the illustrator showcased his work in Tokyo. Keeping this in mind, Kendra thought it best for the exhibition to be an introductory exhibition as he realized that there are still many in the city who are unfamiliar with his body of work. As Kendra and the Tsubame Studio team went back and forth in finalizing what the exhibition would look like, Kendra brought up the Coastal Vision book which he published late last year together with the independent publisher, Jordan, jordan Édition. He suggested the overall theme of the exhibition to revolve around the book. “So it worked out well with the work I already have. Not new pieces but a kind of archive of previous works,” he remarked. 

There was no single designated curator for the exhibition. Instead, Kendra and the Tsubame team worked together to determine the exhibition layout as well as how to promote the exhibition. “Well the gallery’s pretty small…But I really enjoyed that the process was pretty humble. Nothing too over the top…Just like a typical gallery space in Japan,” he explained. As he had visited the space before, he was able to accurately visualize how to layout the exhibition. He went on to explain how he wanted to form a sort of hallway at the entrance of the exhibition using the artwork that was hung up from the ceiling. 

The size of the studio and its being abroad also had an impact on which pieces Kendra was able to bring to Tsubame Studio. As Tsubame Studio is a small gallery, naturally there were challenges that informed the final exhibition. “Because they’re a small studio, so we mostly discussed technicalities. For example, they weren’t able to cover the cost of my flight there but  I was able to keep a certain percentage of the sales. And that influenced the type of work I brought over,” Kendra explained. As such, he had to prioritize pieces that he would be able to transport himself to Japan on his flight as transporting his larger pieces would be too costly. “So I had to figure out how I could  bring that all with me in my hand carry, ” he chuckled.

Tsubame’s strong connection with music also had somewhat of an influence over the pieces Kendra chose to exhibit. He favored the many posters and artwork he created for various musical acts. Coastal Vision’s strong connection with the world of music is also clearly evident in the various musical acts who have recorded their music in the upstairs recording studio adding to the experience of the exhibition. Various bands, musicians, and DJs performed at the venue. “They’re very musical people so they often held gigs in that space but only for bands that recorded their music upstairs. From their roster so to speak. So [Tsubame Studio] is giving them a stage. So when I was exhibiting, there was a performance held each weekend,” Kendra elaborated. The Tsubame Studio team would give suggestions on potential performers for Kendra’s approval. The performers include Tō Yō, their guitarist, Sebun, DJ Nogi, Yaryu, and Kotsu Guy of Kikagaku Moyo. 

Coastal Vision was a hit! “Surprisingly,  there were a lot of visitors. Because there’s a recording studio upstairs, a lot of the visitors were musicians. Yeah, like [Tsubame Studio’s] connections. I’m really lucky because that’s my area of expertise and I was able to meet so many Japanese bands. Well, hopefully, some of them will approach me with work in the future,” Kendra chuckled. The exhibition concluded on April 13 with great success. Coastal Vision was in no shortage of visitors and most of his exhibited pieces have been sold. As he has now completed his introductory exhibition, Kendra hopes that this opens the doors for him to exhibit in Tokyo again in future and with new artwork.

About the Author

Kireina Masri

Kireina Masri has had her nose stuck in a book since she could remember. Majoring in Illustration, she now writes, in both English and Indonesian, of all things visual—pouring her love of the arts into the written word. She aspires to be her neighborhood's quirky cat lady in her later years.