ヴォイド オブ ニッポン 77 - 戦後美術史のある風景と反復進行 -
ヴォイド オブ ニッポン 77 - 戦後美術史のある風景と反復進行 -
and spreading out,
through works of
artists who underlie
the spirit of their times
French philosopher Roland Barthes (1915–1980) saw Japan as a country full of signs, with an empty void at its center. In contrast to the Empire of Meaning, he called Japan the Empire of Signs. In his portrayal of Japan, the emperor, cities, onnagata actors, sukiyaki, etiquette, pachinko, and student movements were all just signs, freed from meaning in an unconstrained culture. By contrasting this Empire of Signs with the Empire of Meaning, he presented a Japan that he saw as freed from the threatening attachment of meaning known in the West. In Japanese culture, the signified (signifié) was not stopping the development of chains of signifiers (signifiants). A few months before his death, Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) inverted this view of Japan to examine it from a different perspective, describing it in words that still reverberate today: "Soon Japan will vanish altogether. In its place, all that will remain is an inorganic, empty, neutral, drab, wealthy, scheming, economic giant in a corner of the Far East.”*2 Japan’s “void,” as observed by both Barthes and Mishima, becomes our premise for throwing light back onto postwar artists through the work of a subsequent generation of artists active today. This reveals sequences*1 of landscapes (sequential patterns like the Sequenz used in music) in the meaning-free empty-centered void of postwar art history. August 2022 marks seventy-seven years from the end of war in the Pacific. That is the same length of time as elapsed between Japan’s Meiji Restoration and the end of the Pacific War. To be specific, there were seventy-seven years between 1868 and 1945, and another seventy-seven years have now elapsed between 1945 and 2022. We have reached the point where Japan’s prewar and postwar periods are the same length. That historical continuity inspired the theme for this exhibition: “Postwar art history landscape sequences.” None of the works presented in this exhibition is autonomous or self-sufficient. They have the capability to repeat from age to age, forming chains and spreading out. Consequently, each of the works naturally expresses temporal continuity. In this exhibition, we refer to this phenomenon as a “sequence.”*1 The exhibition’s composition aims to connect artists whose work underlay the spirit of the times in prewar and postwar Japan with artists active today who represent new generations, thereby bringing the continuity of time into relief. Furthermore, it aims to objectify the spirit of the times through each of the individual periods in that history—Showa, Heisei, and Reiwa—raising questions about where we are now headed.
*1Sequence (Ger. Sequenz) is a term used in music to refer to repeated use of a phrase of some sort, typically ascending or descending with each repetition.
*2Essay by Mishima in the Sankei Shimbun evening edition of July 7, 1970.
*2Essay by Mishima in the Sankei Shimbun evening edition of July 7, 1970.
Exhibition curator, Takayo Iida
Exhibit Works, Artists Profile
Born in 1932 in Aichi Prefecture. On Kawara became known worldwide as a Japanese conceptual artist. After graduating from what is now Aichi Prefectural Kariya High School, he moved to Tokyo in 1951, and in 195 3 exhibited a work from his Bathroom series of pencil drawings in the first Nippon Exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. This series of drawings depicting pregnant women and human body parts in a tiled bathroom attracted a great deal of attention. Kawara also produced a series of death-mask portraits (Thanatophanies, 1955-56) that became the prototype for his “printed paintings,” offset printed paintings produced through prepress and printing processes under the direct supervision of the artist. This idea is described in detail in an article by On Kawara titled “Insatsu Kaiga” [Printed Paintings] in Kaiga no Giho to Kaiga no Yukue [Painting Techniques and the Future of Painting], an extra edition of Bijutsu Techo (Issue No.155, 1959). In 1959, Kawara moved to Mexico. At Mexico City University he was a contemporary of filmmaker Alejandro Prullansky. Later, in 1965, he made New York the base for his work. Then, on January 4, 1966, he started his Date Painting series, painting the day’s date in white on a black painted canvas. Each work followed the rule of beginning at zero—midnight—and completing the painting within the same day, placing the finished work in a box with the day’s newspaper. Kawara is also known for many other works, including his I AM STILL ALIVE series, in which he sent telegrams announcing “I am still alive” from around the world. In 1970–71, he used a typewriter to type the year a million times, one for each of a million consecutive years, publishing it as a limited edition book One Million Years (Past), followed by One Million Years (Future) in 1980. Solo exhibitions include On Kawara: Continuity/Discontinuity 1963–1979 (National Museum of Art, Osaka, etc., 1980-81), ON KAWARA Whole and Parts 1964-1995 (Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, etc., 1996–98), and On Kawara, Silence (Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2015).
Born in 1932 in Osaka. Began oil painting while in high school, under instruction from a member of the Dokuritsu Bijutsu Kyokai. After graduation, she presented her work in the association’s Independent Exhibition. Tutored by Shigeji Mishima, who she later married, she at first painted representational still lifes, then gradually shifted toward abstract work. She began with experimental collages depicting magazines and newspapers, and later added silk screening to her repertoire. The 1960s was a time when large numbers of new newspapers and magazines were launched, and people were starting to talk about the Information Age. Mishima deliberately incorporated this societal change into her work. After painting for about ten years, she sensed the limitations of the medium. When exploring new avenues, she noticed that newspapers she had cut up for collages were bundled up, rolling around her studio floor, and this gave her the idea for sculptures. After trying out a variety of materials, her need to produce a direct expression of the danger posed to society of being manipulated by information led her to settle on ceramics, as they inherently possessed the risk of cracking or shattering. After a period of independent research, her first attempt to produce a ceramic three-dimensional newspaper work was in 1970–71. The overwhelming materiality of the pottery, which could potentially exist for ever if not broken, but simultaneously carried the risk of breakage, resonated with Mishima’s view of the risks facing society in the Information Age. She presented her work in 1972 at Muramatsu Gallery in Ginza, Tokyo, which was the first of many solo exhibitions and installations. Mishima received the Gold Medal at the International Ceramic Exhibition, Faenza, Italy in 1974. In 2021, she was awarded Japan’s Commissioner for Cultural Affairs Award, followed by the Grand Prize at the 63nd Mainichi Art Award in 2022. Recent exhibitions include Kimiyo Mishima (MEM, Tokyo, 2020) and Another Energy: Power to Continue Challenging - 16 Women Artists from around the World (Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2021).
Born in 1935 in Tokyo. Graduated from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (now Tokyo University of the Arts) in 1958. Formed the Hi Red Center collective in 1963 with Jiro Takamatsu and Genpei Akasegawa, becoming well known for “anti-art” practices that went beyond the conventional conception of art. Established a connection with butoh-ka dancers such as Kazuo Ono and Tatsumi Hijikata in 1965, after which he collaborated on stage design and stage artwork for performances by Hijikata’s Ankoku Butoh company, along with scenery for opera and diverse work extending to many other areas. His experimented with artistic expression through installations, art objects, and other media, but explorations of the fundamental nature of painting continued be a key part of his practice, working through a series of abstract paintings primarily employing purple and white or yellow. In 1996 he was awarded an honorary professorship at his alma mater, and his vigorous production continued into his later years, contributing to many exhibitions around Japan and worldwide. Major solo exhibitions by Nakanishi include Toward Whiteness, Intensity, Presence (Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 1997) and Natsuyuki Nakanishi: Rhyme, Clothespins Assert Churning Action, Passing Each Other: Receding Purple, Emerging White Spots (Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art, Chiba, 2012. His work is included in many major collections worldwide, including those of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; and the National Museum of Art, Osaka.
Born in 1936 in Tokyo. Jiro Takamatsu led the development of avantgarde art in Japan from the 1960s onwards, and is one of Japan’s most significant postwar artists. Working with diverse techniques and materials, he utilized painting, sculpture, photography, drawing, performance, and much more to explore structures and mechanisms that underlie our sense of vision and cognition. His thinking on the fundamental systems relating to art and to the way that art is perceived can be seen in the development of a number of series of works, with each series having its own independent production technique. In 1963, Takamatsu formed the Hi Red Center collective in conjunction with Genpei Akasegawa and Natsuyuki Nakanishi. Together they instigated a variety of performances and actions, taking urban Tokyo as their stage. After an initial period when his “anti-art” tendencies came to the fore, Takamatsu’s practice became involved with materials and perception, an involvement that became deeper and deeper as time went by. His work greatly influenced the formation of the Mono-ha movement in its early days. In 1964, he began to produce one of his best known series, Shadow, an investigation into the boundary between existence and non-existence. And in the 1980s, he commenced the Shape series, considering shape as the instantaneous manifestation of color, form, and space. In this series, he reverted to first principles through inquiries conducted to integrate and re-validate his various ideas.
Born in 1937 in Kanagawa. Active in manga, writing, and photography as well as avantgarde art. Entered Musashino College of Art in 1955, showed his work at the Yomiuri Independent in 1958, and in 1960, joined with Masanobu Yoshimura et al. to form Neo-Dada Organizers. In 1963 he established Hi Red Center with Jiro Takamatsu and Natsuyuki Nakanishi, and as part of the collective’s Mixer plans, created his Model Thousand-Yen Note works and wrapped objects in addition to performances such as Dropping Event, which involved dropping objects from a rooftop, and Cleaning Event (Be Clean! Campaign to Promote Cleanliness and Order in the Metropolitan Area). In 1964, Akasegawa was indicted for counterfeiting in the production of his Model Thousand-Yen Note. That led to the start of the Thousand-Yen Note Trial, in which he was found guilty. In the 1970s, took up manga and novel-writing, establishing his reputation as a parody manga artist with Sakura Gahou (1971), and winning the 1981 Akutagawa Prize for his short story Father is Gone under the pen-name Katsuhiko Otsuji. In addition to literary works, he cemented his reputation as an essayist with a bestseller in 1999 with Elderly Power (pub. Chikuma Shobo 1998). In the 1980s he turned to photography, seeking out oddities in the urban fabric through activities he called Hyper-Art: Thomasson, the Street Observation Society, and the Leica Alliance. In 1996, he formed Cheerleaders for Japanese Art with art historian Yuji Yamashita, continuing with each activity until shortly before his death in 2014.
Born in 1937 in Tokyo. Tomio Miki was determined to become an artist from an early age, but his father insisted that he had to gain a professional qualification as a hairdresser first. After graduating from what is now the Kubota Beauty & Hairdressing College), he signed up for a correspondence course at the Chubi art and design school. Although he never formally joined, he was closely involved with the Neo-Dada Organizers, an avantgarde art group that included people like Ushio Shinohara and Shusaku Arakawa, and in 1958, he exhibited at the Yomiuri Independent Exhibition, aged twenty. Around that time, his works—including creating a massive object from car tires, coating it with asphalt, and setting fire to it, or hanging up rows of countless bottles at the exhibition venue and breaking them—showed elements in line with what at the time was called “anti-art,” but they had no consistent format. It was not until 1962 that he began to doggedly produce works in the shape of a human ear, later saying that “Ears chose me.” He presented his first Ear series in a solo exhibition in 1963, and went on to produce a large number of sculptures cast in aluminum or brass with the human ear as their motif. In 1966, he was commissioned to produce ears for the set of Hiroshi Teshigahara’s film The Face of Another (based on the novel by Kobo Abe). He has also participated in the Venice Biennale and the Sao Paulo Biennale. For Expo 70, he installed a massive concrete ear in the Friday Plaza area. In 1971, he spent about a year in New York on a Rockefeller Foundation Scholarship, and he returned to New York for several months two years before his untimely death in 1978 at the age of forty-one, producing a final work, Ear with Wings, which was destroyed before a sculpture could be cast.
Born in 1942. Isao Kitamura was a painter who learned to paint through independent study before meeting Hiroshi Nakamura, one of the best known Japanese avantgarde artists of the postwar period, and becoming Nakamura’s pupil. Linking avantgarde art with revolutionary postwar politics, Kitamura was stimulated by “reportage painting,” a form of protest art that aimed to record social issues by painting them, and he attempted to follow up from that genre and take it further forward. From 1968, he was an active member of the Avant-garde Art Society (Zen'ei Bijutsu-kai, which changed the name of its exhibition to Komaten in 1976). Kitamura’s major group exhibitions include the Independent ’64 (Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 1964), 22nd Avant-garde Art Society Exhibition (Direct System) (Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 1968), and 1st–7th Komaten (Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 1970–1976). Main solo exhibitions include Kitamura Isao (Shinjuku Kinokuniya Gallery, 1971) and Kitamura Isao (Waseda Gallery, 1976).
Born in 1983 in Tokyo to an Italian father and a Japanese mother. Grew up in Tokyo. Artist Enrico Isamu Oyama’s artistic practice involves a variety of mediums, and is based on his Quick Turn Structure, a motif re-interpreting aerosol writing as visual art. Oyama graduated from Keio University in 2007, and obtained an MFA from Tokyo University of the Arts in 2009. Undertaking a residence in New York in 2011–12 funded by the Asian Cultural Council, he established a studio in Brooklyn and continues to work there. He has held a number of solo exhibitions at venues including the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art (Kansas), Pola Museum of Art, (Hakone), Nakamura Keith Haring Collection (Yamanashi), Tower 49 Gallery (New York), and the Kanagawa Kenmin Hall Gallery. Publications include Against Literacy: On Graffiti Culture (LIXIL Publishing), The Real Faces of Street Art (Seidosha), Sutorito no Bijutsu (Art of the Street, pub. Kodansha) Earosoru no Imi-ron (Aerosol Semantics, pub. Seidosha). Guest edited the June 2017 edition of Japanese art magazine Bijutsu Techo, a special issue on aerosol writing, and collaborated with brands such as Comme des Garçons, Shu Uemura, JINS, and Audi. Set up a second studio is Tokyo in 2020, and currently works in both cities.
Born in 1948 in Yokaichi, Shiga Prefecture. Currently works in Kameoka, Kyoto Prefecture. Since the 1980s, participated in many international art festivals, including the Venezia Biennale, the Carnegie International, and Triennale India. The artist’s large sculptural works using bamboo and washi paper have gained a particularly broad audience, and are included in a number of architectural projects. From the mid-1990s, his practice extended to large flat works drawn in ink on torinoko washi paper, including his Icon works that are painted from clay models, and his Universe works that can be compared to the mandalas in Buddhism, both of which were presented in a solo exhibition at the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art and at the Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh. One particularly high profile project is the 15 meter sculpture that he installed on the 90th floor of the World Financial Center in Shanghai in 2008. Recent solo exhibitions include Yoshio Kitayama: Ikiru Tame no Shudai (Subjects for living) at the Mizunoki Museum of Art, Kameoka (Kyoto, 2013), Yoshio Kitayama: Ogoe de Wariautai, Toki niha Naki (Laughing and Singing Out Loud, Sometimes Crying) at the Yokaichi Arts and Cultural Center (Shiga, 2015), and Yoshio Kitayama: Jiken (MEM, Tokyo, 2019). Major group exhibitions include Setouchi International Art Festival 2010 (Ogijima, Kagawa, 2010), The Universe and Art: Princess Kaguya, Leonardo da Vinci, teamLab (Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2016), Echigo-Tsumari Art Field, 2017 Spring (Echigo-Tsumari Satoyama Museum of Contemporary Art, KINARE, Niigata, 2017), and Kansai Contemporary Art of the 1980s (Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, 2022).
Born in 1973 in Tokyo. BFA in Textiles from Goldsmiths College, University of London in 1998, followed by MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2001. Currently lives and works in Tokyo. Using an industrial sewing machine and extending the scope of embroidery as a medium, Aoyama creates works that question the relationship between humans and the value of labor, a relationship that has been changing since the beginning of the modern period. Recent major exhibitions include Unfolding: Fabric of Our Life (Center for Heritage Arts & Textile, Hong Kong, 2019), The Lonely Labourer (Mizuma Art Gallery, Tokyo, 2019), Dress Code: Are You Playing Fashion? (Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, 2020), and Re-construction (Nerima Art Museum, Tokyo, 2020).
Born in 1978 in Kyoto Prefecture. Lives in Kyoto. As part of studies at Kyoto City University of Arts, attended the Royal College of Art in London as an exchange student in 2001. Obtained an MFA in sculpture from the Kyoto City University of Arts in 2003, and currently teaches sculpture at the University as an associate professor. Kaneuji’s practice involves gathering everyday things from around him to use in collage-like techniques. Uses a diversity of media, including sculpture, painting, video, and photography, but all his works have the consistent theme of exploring ideas about visual arts systems by surfacing relationships between material and image. Solo exhibitions include Eraser Forest (21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, 2020), Teppei Kaneuji’s “ZONES” (Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art, Kagawa, 2016), Cubed Liquid, Metallic Memory Kyoto Experiment 2014 (Kyoto Art Center, 2014), Towering Something (Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China, 2013), and Melting City/Empty Forest (Yokohama Museum of Art, Kanagawa, 2009). During this period, also handled many stage art and book design projects. In addition to stage design for Kaden no youni wakariaenai (We never understand each other as household electric appliances) produced by Owlspot (2011), Wakattasan no Cookie (a part of oishii okashii oshibai (yummy, funny play) for the KAAT Kids Program, 2015-2016), Chelfitsch & Teppei Kaneuji, Eraser Mountain (KYOTO EXPERIMENT 2019), and Chelfitsch & Teppei Kaneuji, Eraser Forest (21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, 2020), Kaneuji has also experimented on the production side, staging his own video work tower (THEATRE) as part of KYOTO EXPERIMENT 2017 (ROHM THEATRE, Kyoto, 2017). The artist’s works are in a number of significant collections, including the Yokohama Museum of Art, Kanagawa, Mori Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Ishikawa, and the Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art (Australia).
Born in 1982 in Tokyo. In 2010, obtained an MFA in painting from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. After the 3.11 earthquake, Kamo began to consider painting as a synonym of survival. Weaving together imagination and actual events, he creates paintings that visualize “I” and “society” in relation to each other. Recent works have addressed themes that concern disasters that have hit Japan, including those in Fukushima, Hiroshima, and Minamata. Significant solo exhibitions include Wind Blowing Through Boundary (LOKO gallery 2019), Vicarious Scene (Maruki Art Museum, Saitama, 2018), Portrait of the Scene (Tsunagi Art Museum, Kumamoto, 2017), Vicarious Painting (Hiroshima Art Center, Hiroshima, 2017). Group exhibitions include Artists and the Disaster: Imagining in the 10th Year (Art Tower Mito, 2021), Past, Present, Future - Like Imagining a Constellation (Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 2019), and Navigation & Trajectory (Aomori Contemporary Art Center, 2015).
Born in Tokyo in 1984. Referencing disciplines such as science fiction and philosophy of science, Suga predominantly works in three-dimensions, creating innovative works that consist of a variety of materials, including objects made of everyday articles and 3D CG video works. Recent solo exhibitions include Eyes for Wide Shut (LEESAYA, Tokyo, 2022). Group exhibitions include Takamatsu Contemporary Annual vol. 06—Materials That Tell Stories (Takamatsu Art Museum, Kagawa, 2017), Ghost Roaming (LAGE EGAL Raum für aktuelle Kunst, Berlin, 2016), and Duality of Existence at Friedman Benda (New York, 2014).
Visual artist who studied at Bunka Fashion college in Tokyo. Lives in Tokyo, but since 2017, maintained studios in both Bangkok and Tokyo, using the experience to reboot her artistic style. From 2021, began working from a new location in Paris. In addition to two-dimensional pieces, her work extends to genres such as performance and movie production. Her practice focuses particularly on identifying issues that affect the artist herself as someone living in contemporary times, and on pursuing an understanding of mental state. Presentations include Don’t Look at Me (solo exhibition, CARTEL Artspace, Bangkok, 2018), Psycho-Graphy Plot (solo exhibition, Bangkok Biennial, Bangkok, 2018), Coding swarm voices (performance, LOW Fat Art Fest, Bangkok, 2019), It’s already happened (group exhibition, Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin, Berlin, 2019), Beast, Men & Bits/Liminal [Post-Digital-Age Curiosity Cabinet] (group exhibition, Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban Planning, China, 2019), and “The_O_rems” (solo exhibition, CARTEL Artspace, Bangkok, 2020). An exhibition and performance are currently planned for autumn 2022 in Paris, France.
Formed in 1992. Conducts guerilla-style artistic activities as a collective of anonymous artists with a base in Tokyo. Based on deep observation of art history and social thought, produces ironical critiques on the arts and politics. Activities extend outside Japan, with Kokumin Tohyo being introduced as a leading artist in 1990s contemporary art by the international contemporary art magazine Flash Art. Main group exhibitions include Art Scene of 1990s (Namba City Hall. Osaka, 1992, NICAF ’94 (Pacifico Yokohama, 1994), ART TODAY ’95 (Sezon Museum of Modern Art, Karuizawa, 1995), APPROACHING REALITY (Yokohama Civic Art Gallery, 1999). Significant solo exhibitions include Kokumin Tohyo (Nerima Art Museum, 1992), and Kokumin Tohyo (Shiki Fujimori Gallery, Tokyo, 1997).
- August 15–September 25, 2022 / 11：00 – 20：00 / Closed : August 22, 2022
- GYRE / Sgùrr Dearg Institute for Sociology of the Arts
- GYRE GALLERY 3F, 5-10-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
- Takayo Iida(Director of the Sgùrr Dearg Institute for Sociology of the Arts)
- Curatorial collaboration
- Yohsuke Takahashi
- Venue Design
- Ryuya Umezawa(ALA Inc.)
- Nanami Norita（graphic potato）
- Design collaboration
- COVA(Taketo Kobayashi,Hikaru Takata,and Haruka Ohta)
- Equipment collaboration
- Suga Art Studio
- Photography collaboration
- Mori Koda
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