Graphism in Wilderness : KIYOSHI AWAZU
2007.11.23 (Fri.) - 2008.3.20 (Thu.)
A PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN COUP, 1977
- Period :
- 2007.11.23 (Fri.) - 2008.3.20 (Thu.)
- Venue :
- 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
About the Exhibition
"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.