Hiroshi Sugimoto:History of History

2008.11.22 (Sat.) - 2009.3.22 (Sun.)

Art is technique: a means by which to materialize the invisible realm of the mind. As such, my art is an emblematic rendering of part of my mind in visible form̶or perhaps we might say,samplings from my consciousness. Over my many years as an artist, I have endeavored to hone my technique.
The origins of art thus share a common timeframe with the origins of humankind, its beginnings coinciding with the advent of human consciousness. In the course of honing my own technique, Iʼve had to take many predecessors as my models so as to acquire what is to be learned from them̶or again perhaps we might say my models have been sampled from the horizons reached by those predecessors. Whenever I obtained one sample and gained an understanding of a technique, each new mindset made me want the next sample and the next. Understanding one thing always brought the realization that more profound unknowns lay beyond. And so my sample gathering caused a chain reaction that led on who-knows-where.
The samples collected here represent offshoot selves, or no, former selves assembled out of necessity in order to learn something or absorb some nurturing sustenance toward further transforming my own art. From these samples, I may now infer how the past relates to my works via an imaginary journey to verify the site of innumerable actualities. I pick up a paleolithic stone tool and it fits snugly in the palm of my hand. I experience the revolutionary technical leap of paleolithic man and the epiphany enters my consciousness̶then I reach for an even better neolithic stone tool. In one instant, I have taken in hundreds of thousands of years of human development. I look at hieroglyphic writing in the Egyptian Book of the Dead and see images of gods. This piece of linen thought to have once wrapped a dead body hands me a five-millennia yardstick. The slow passage of ages past seems to speed up and rush headlong at my present self. Changes that once took a thousands years are now achieved in a matter of decades. Timeʼs arrow keeps accelerating asymptotically toward some critical juncture.
Civilizations have come and gone since the dawn of heaven and earth, writing and rewriting history at every turn. History is simply the victorsʼ story as passed down by the survivors. And yet the losersʼ stories that have become mere relics for lack of anyone to relate them, those closed pages still tell me things. Just as lifeforms extinct for millions of years still speak to me via their fossils. Throughout my life Iʼve taken one step back from history and gazed fondly at my collection of relics.
These relics Iʼve assembled present a history of what history has forgotten, of where stories ended between closed covers.

- To Create Our Own Place by Ourselves –

Kanazawa Art Platform 2008

2008.10.4 (Sat.) - 2008.12.7 (Sun.)

 “KANAZAWA ART PLATFORM 2008” is a project-type exhibition that 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa holds in the city of Kanazawa.
 In recent years, many artists have played an active part, directly involved in the community. How can they make an impact on society through their activities? How can they propose new ideas for the future? With these tough issues, they are exploring the possibilities of art, considering the real society a place for their practice and expression. Artists who deal with their works in such a constructive manner have specif ic characteristics in common. Instead of going ahead as a person of expression, they would rather put themselves in a coordinator’s position laboring to construct the basic framework and overall circumstances. What they regard as important is a mutual relationship; understanding, consent, and opposition sometimes. Being free from fixed ideas such as exhibition form, and genres of art, architecture or design, they approach projects cross wise in terms of the possibility of expression. In addition, they put a greater emphasis on chemistry between their works and the place where local people live and its continuity rather than extra ordinariness of artworks. There, coordination and site-specific work take precedence, and the involvement with many people is called for.
 Thus, “KANAZAWA ART PLATFORM 2008” is a project which provides a place where the residents of Kanazawa and artists, who are subjectively involved in activities in the community, can continue coordinating with each other. “Platform” literally represents a station platform where people meet with one another through art and it will lead to new happenings, so that new by passes are made around different frameworks of companies, homes, schools and communities. Finally, it will provide a good opportunity for people to meet and converse with each other livening up the city. In  “KANAZAWA ART PLATFORM,” we try to establish a place where people begin dialogues, not monologues, to promote a better relationship with the society.
 “KANAZAWA ART PLATFORM” is a project-type exhibition to be held triennial. Now we celebrate its first year, and this time, the theme is “to create our own place by ourselves.” Into this theme, we, citizens living in Kanazawa, have put our wish to make up a “platform” where we can get involved in the activities in the community together with artists. The goal of “KANAZAWA ART PLATFORM 2008” is that each citizen can enrich his or her life with confidence in the familiar surroundings through working together with artists.
Director, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

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「shell - shelter」

Collection II

2008.9.13 (Sat.) - 2009.4.12 (Sun.)

Collection II
「shell - shelter」

There will be no safety zone.
--- from: Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, ANN LEE IN ANZEN ZONE

The “Collection Exhibition” presents important art works reflecting the changing values and transitions of contemporary society and, through their presentation, explores current social issues.

The keywords for “Collection II” are “shell — shelter.” The images of the human body presented in the exhibition suggest varying perspectives—a standard for value judgment, a cast-off shell of the emotions or spirit, a shelter allowing us to continue being who we are, life and death, and so on. While questioning existing values and rendering apparent our loneliness and uncertainty, our helplessness, and the distance between us as individuals, these works endeavor to discover anew a place of survival and meaningful existence.

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2008.8.2 (Sat.) - 2008.11.3 (Mon.)

The first large-scale solo exhibition in Japan devoted to Makoto Saito, a creator internationally renowned in the graphic design field. Through innovative expression in the 1980s and '90s, Saito shattered the norms of graphic design, and has since reshaped the design field. Now, in a much-anticipated exhibition of new works he will launch into the twenty-first century, Saito presents some 50 of the paintings he has been incubating for years. Saito's wide-ranging creative activities have heretofore emerged from a perpetual themeーhis investigation into the act of "seeing." In the mid- '90s, Saito began to explore the painting genre in earnest, alongside his activities in the design field. His paintings, this time, reflect as ever the penetrating eye he continually casts on contemporary life. Among their subjects are movies, a medium of special meaning to him that he has felt close to since childhood. Capturing a single, instantaneous shot from a movie, he boldly deconstructs it employing the contemporary filter of digital technology. The exhibition will provide a glimpse into Saito's present creative world and his endeavor to expand the act of "seeing" to an act of "depicting."

The human figures we encounter in these paintings are veiled in a frosty cold atmosphere from which we sense no warmth. From a temperatureless zero pointーSCENE [0]ーa disquieting world slowly emerges. It is as if the artist were consciously defying today's trend of conveniently seeking healing in warmth and naturalness. Saito's pictorial space, constructed using his own unique motifs and textures, captures the feel of our times and portrays us, the people of contemporary society, with merciless objectivity.

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Makoto Saito
Face Cut Out
acrylic, oil ink on canvas
60 x 60 cm
©Makoto Saito

Katsuhiko HIBINO Art Project


2008.5.31 (Sat.) - 2008.10.19 (Sun.)

The second phase of “HOME→AND←AWAY” SYSTEM, launched in 2007, is entitled “Katsuhiko HIBINO Art Project ‘HOME→AND←AWAY’ SYSTEM meets NODA [But-a-I].” In this phase, Katsuhiko Hibino and Hideki Noda will travel back and forth between each other’s “HOME→AND←AWAY” (art and theater) in a grand experiment in expressive action.
By introducing the element of theater into art through workshops and stage design, Katsuhiko Hibino will seek to expand the possibilities for expression in the art museum context. Through interaction with the “art museum gallery”—what is for him an “away” setting—Hideki Noda will reach for new expressive potential.
Constructed from over 2,000 Owase hinoki (Japanese cypress) trees, the [But-a-I] stage displayed in the gallery functions as a device for converting visitors alternately to actors and viewers. The [But-a-I] workshop launched in April in the Project Room, moreover, will expand its activities to the [But-a-I] stage in the gallery and become a public workshop of open character.

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Collection I

2008.5.27 (Tue.) - 2008.7.21 (Mon.)

Drawing from the Museum’s Collection, the “Collection Exhibition” presents a complex blend of viewpoints through the display of important artworks reflecting and influencing changes and transitions in human values. Employing such artworks, the exhibitions of this series explore diverse facets of contemporary society.
“Collection I” introduces diverse styles of artistic expression through 40 works by 8 artists. The works of artist Canan DAGDELEN are characterized by her investigation of our cultural identity and our connectivity with our exterior physical environment. The four Dagdelen works displayed in this exhibition explore the instable character of our notions of “homeland” and “home.”
Artist Ernesto NETO has won global acclaim with works investigating the relationship between body and space. His BODY SPACE NAVE MIND employs a highly elastic fabric, Lycra, in producing an installation reminding us of an immense, organic life form. With its fabric of skin-like feel and herbal fragrances, the work speaks directly to our body and mind about our connection with the myriad things existing around us.
Sea Breeze, a piece representative of MURAKAMI Takashi’s early work, is also a must-see. In this work, shutters are attached to the front and back of an immense box-like form having wheels and tail lamps at its base. The shutters open at regular intervals to disclose powerful lights so bright, viewers must avert their eyes.
Also displayed are works by Gabriel OROZCO, Johan GRIMONPREZ, HIBINO Katsuhiko, Carsten NICOLAI, and KAWASAKI Kazuo. Viewers are invited to enjoy artworks that explore the world around us and capture the character of human values, perceptions, and cognition of reality from many viewpoints. (This exhibition has ended.)

Ron Mueck

2008.4.26 (Sat.) - 2008.8.31 (Sun.)

This is a solo exhibition of Ron Mueck (1958 - ), whose works attract a great deal of attention, to be held for the first time in Japan. Mueck who has a career of making models for movies and TV programs makes full use of materials such as silicon and fiberglass to express a human body in precise sculpture by means of a classic casting technique. To complete his work, Mueck devotes himself completely to communicate with materials and the motif in the long thorough process of production. In the world of his work, realism showing in detail even hair and blood vessels under the skin is interwoven with the unreality of sizes that are gigantic or minimum. You might say that the world of his works is criticizing the nature of human existence in the contemporary society. The world of MueckÅfs works, which cross the body and the spirit, and the ordinary and the unordinary, confronts us vividly with the essential issue in art, that is, the relation between "creation" and "the nature of human existence."

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Ron Mueck
A Girl, 2006
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
Courtesy: National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Selected Chinese and Korean Ceramics from the Ataka Collection


2008.2.9 (Sat.) - 2008.3.20 (Thu.)

The Ataka Collection is a compilation of approximately 1,000 pieces of Oriental ceramics collected as a business undertaking by Ataka Co., Ltd., a company once numbered among Japan’s ten largest trading firms. It was ATAKA Eiichi (1901-94) who oversaw the collecting with a keen, uncompromising eye and built a peerless ceramics collection. Eiichi served as company board chairman and later as counselor, but he is remembered primarily as an art collector and also as a patron of Western classical music in pre- and post-war Japan.

ATAKA Eiichi was born to a family of wealth and power in Kanaiwa-cho, Ishikawa-gun, Ishikawa Prefecture (present-day Kanaiwa-cho, Kanazawa City). His grandfather, Kokichi, who had built a fortune through his dealings in finance, fertilizer and clothing, was among Kaga province’s wealthiest merchants. Eiichi’s father, Yakichi, devoted his energies to the importation of general goods, thereby laying a foundation for Ataka Co., Ltd. to become a distinguished trading company. Yakichi is also known as the foremost patron of scholar SUZUKI Daisetsu and philosopher NISHIDA Kitaro.

After the dissolution of Ataka Co., Ltd., the Ataka Collection was ultimately donated to Osaka City by the twenty-one companies of the Sumitomo Group under the leadership of Sumitomo Bank, which had been Ataka Company’s main bank. Osaka City then founded The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka in 1982 in order to house the Collection. Consisting mainly of Korean ceramics of the Goryeo and Joseon Dynasties and Chinese ceramics of the Tang, Song, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties, the Collection is widely esteemed as one of the finest ceramic collections in the world.

This exhibition will present 56 gem-like works, including 2 national treasures and 11 important cultural properties, selected from the Collection under the supervision of The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka. Visitors to this homecoming exhibition of a world-class collection closely associated with Kanazawa are invited to savor the beauty and enjoyment of Oriental ceramics. (This exhibition has ended.)

National Treasure, BOTTLE, Celadon with Iron brown spots
Longquan ware Yuan dynasty, 13th-14th century
Collection: The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka
Gift of SUMITOMO Group

Graphism in Wilderness : KIYOSHI AWAZU

2007.11.23 (Fri.) - 2008.3.20 (Thu.)

"Graphism in the Wilderness: Kiyoshi Awazu" presents the full scope of Kiyoshi Awazu's oeuvre and considers its meaning for us today through the display of over 1,750 principal works -including drawings, works never exhibited, and experimental films -from among the 2,600 Awazu works in the collection of 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa.

In his dedication to experimental expression, Kiyoshi Awazu has traversed wide-ranging genres, saying, "In all expressive fields, I resolve to remove not only the boundaries among forms of expression; I will also remove class, category, disparity, and the upward and downward that have appeared in art." A singular genius with a ceaseless interest in the world around him, Awazu took up art amid his country's reconstruction from the ruins of war and went on to build a foundation for graphic design in Japan. He has since blazed a career cutting freely across the genres of painting, posters, prints, book design, architecture, music, film, performance, and theater.

Having lost his father in a railroad accident soon after he was born, Awazu could look only to a newspaper article about the accident and three portrait photographs for clues to his father's existence. "The city raised me, " he says of a youth surrounded by ex-soldiers, joiners, and factory workers in his neighborhood. After the war, while bouncing from job to job, he began to sketch and paint on his own, using movies and art magazines as textbooks. An enormous volume of sketches -studies of passengers on Yamanote Line trains and people seen along roadsides- remain from that time. After winning the Grand Prize at the 1955 Nissenbi (Japan Advertising Artists' Club) Exhibition for his poster, "Umi wo Kaese" (Give Our Sea Back), Awazu entered the field of design, where he had experience with image reproduction and mass production using printing technology. "It was all a wilderness. The word 'graphic' didn't even exist," he recollects of that time. Perceiving as "graphism" the permeation of everyday life by automatically self-reproducing visual messages driven by modern reproduction technology, he searched intuitively for creative methods that were, by comparison, vulgar and pre-modern and formulated his own style.

While pioneering a world of uniquely personal line drawing, Awazu embarked on a pilgrimage-like journey among idiosyncratic popular icons -fingerprints, palm lines, maps, and ink seals in the 1960s, and turtles, birds, camellias, Mona Lisas, and Abe Sadas in the 1970s. Recalling a childhood interest in reincarnation upon hearing the cellist Pablo Casals perform "Song of the Birds," Awazu furthermore began to depict birds. Since the 1980s, he has developed a strong interest in the global environment and state of human civilization. Amid his journey of revisiting the starting point of his thinking, he has expanded his range of vision to encompass prehistoric cave drawings and pictographs found in ethnic art -subjects transcending time and place. A pilgrim thus among icons having origins in extremely fundamental existence, Kiyoshi Awazu continues, even now, to stand alone in the wilderness.

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AWAZU Kiyoshi

Collection II

2007.9.15 (Sat.) - 2008.4.13 (Sun.)

Artworks from the Museum collection are introduced. Particularly, works that respond to the change or conversion in the social value system elaboratingvarious perspectives are exhibited. This examines intricate relationshipsbetween human expressions and the society.

Katsuhiko HIBINO Art Project " HOME AND AWAY" SYSTEM

2007.4.1 (Sun.) - 2008.3.20 (Thu.)

Katsuhiko HIBINO Art Project " HOME AND AWAY" SYSTEM is almost a-year on-going project. Its educational part is modeld on "Zon Moderna" in Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden. A part of this Art Project, "Asatte Asagao Project 21" starts from April and continues until November 2007. The exhibition of Katsuhiko HIBINO is on view from September 29, 2007.

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