Aug 19 to Sept 26, 2020
All Images courtesy of Tomio Koyama and the artist
Tomio Koyama Gallery is pleased to present “Released Scenic Space,” an exhibition with Kishio Suga. The exhibition marks Suga’s eighth solo presentation at the gallery and features a new installation work that incorporates the entire back room of the Roppongi gallery space (a first and unprecedented attempt for the artist), and also introduces a series of his latest wall-hung three-dimensional works which he has continued to produce in recent years.
【About Kishio Suga –A Leading Figure of Postwar Japanese Art in Our Times】
Kishio Suga (1944-) graduated from the Department of Painting at Tama Art University, and served as a central member of the art movement Mono-ha that took place from the late 1960s to the 1970s. For over 50 years since, he has continued to actively develop his artistic practice while pursuing his own thoughts that resonate with Indian philosophy, paving his own unique path as one of the leading figures of Postwar Japanese art in our times.
Since his first solo exhibition in 1968, Suga has presented work on over 400 occasions in numerous exhibitions both within Japan and abroad. In recent years he was selected for the 57th Venice Biennale “VIVA ARTE VIVA” in 2017, receiving high acclaim for Law of Situation in which he recreated one of his early representative works in the form of an installation floating on water. In that same year Suga participated in the group exhibition “Japanorama: New Vision of JAPAN from 1970” that was held at the Centre Pompidou-Metz in France.
Suga presented two large installations in the exhibition, “Timeless Conversations 2020: Voices from Japanese Art of the Past and Present” (The National Art Center, Tokyo, June 24 – August 24, 2020), drawing an enthusiastic response for an exhibit that wittingly resonates with Sengai’s work Circle. With an unfaltering passion for producing works, Suga continues to further expand the scope of his creative practice.
Suga’s works have also received high international acclaim, and are housed in numerous prominent museums throughout the world including the Centre Pompidou, Tate Modern, Dallas Museum of Art, Dia Art Foundation, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, M+, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.
【About Suga’s Works and his Production Process –A Free Sense of Expansion and Ambiguity, the “Joy” of Negotiating with Things】
Suga produces work by collecting, selecting, integrating, and juxtaposing various “things” that we often come across in our daily lives such as wood, stone, metal, and rope, which he arranges within wooden frames reminiscent of a painting’s canvas, and in exhibition spaces and outdoors. Rather than letting things exist on their own, he serves to further enhance the presence of both things and the site, creating new situations through expressing the “connection” “between “things” and “things,” “things” and “site” that is mutually dependent, as well as their “differences,” “complexity” and “compositeness.”
First, before commencing the production of his work, Suga thoroughly removes the functions and images that humans have instilled in a particular “thing” (for example, “thinking that a stone is not a stone”), and attempts to develop a new understanding of a thing’s essence and existence through interacting and engaging in a dialogue with it.
What is characteristic of Suga is that he does not see “things” as mere “solid matter” or “objects” that humans have given meaning to. Rather, he regards them as independent entities with their own logic, directionality, and presentness, and believes that role of the artist is to seek out the true and inherent nature of “things,” as well as a site that is appropriate for them.
“(Until now) it was regarded that the artist was the subject, and what they deal with is the object. Why must artists treat things in a dominant way? Whether it may be a stone or piece of wood, each thing has its own place and its own reality.” (“How people see “things” is up to each individual,” Discover Japan, March 6, 2020)
Through bending, folding, aligning, stacking, and connecting “things,” Suga engages in as little action as possible to convey the original essence of “things.”
In the way that he “moves one stone every few hours, and considers the difference in the situation,” Suga’s works are constructed through a repeated and careful process of refinement, attempting to figure out from among infinite possibilities, a particular point in which to place them so that the “things are sufficiently alive in terms of their real existence.”
Yuko Hasegawa describes Suga’s works as follows:
“The random positionings that seem to have been thrown up in Suga’s works exude a sense of both expansive freedom and ambiguity.” “It is because of this joy (of his negotiating with objects), that Suga’s works leave an impression on the memories of those who view them.”
(Yuko Hasegawa, “Almost Everything: The Making of Kishio Suga,” Kishio Suga exhibition catalogue, Measured Divisional Entities, Tomio Koyama Gallery, 2019)
【About the new works –The rhythm created by things and the site, the entrance to a multifaceted world】
Suga has presented a succession of solo exhibitions at Tomio Koyama Gallery, starting with 2015, followed by 2017, 2018, 2019, and this year in 2020, for which he has continued to produce three-dimensional works that are made to be installed on the wall. While they at first glance appear flat, the three-dimensional nature of the way in which the “things” are composed creates a new structure that also incorporates the space within them.
The new works featured in the exhibition include those in which a grid-like framework has been further created inside the wooden frame, wood pieces of varying sizes presented in a rhythmical arrangement, or cross-sections of small logs that appear to be in an endless vertical continuum. In addition, new visual effects created through the application of paint in colors such as red, yellow, and blue bring further vividness to the works.
Also presented on this occasion is an installation work in which a thin piece of wood is installed across the entire wall of the back room of the gallery, with a piece of it cut out and placed in the center of the space. The work serves to represent the connection between the whole and part, as well as thing and site.
Suga states as follows regarding this exhibition:
“When there are “things,” it is necessary to consider that there is also inevitably a “site.” The “essence of things” and the “essence of site” are always back-to-back, and cannot be considered separately from one another under any situations.
It can be said that when one perceives “things,” one also integrates the “site” into one’s consciousness. If one were to understand “things” as naturally existing there for a reason, then it may be possible to say that a “site” also is that which is meant to exist. Things, so to speak, exist within a “site” as focal points, yet as site by nature is that which is insubstantial, it is not possible to observe it in the same way as things. That being said, as long as the presence of “things” does not disappear, the “site” is undeniably present as an expanse that naturally exists. On the contrary, one could say that things are able to maintain their nature as a result of the presence of “site.”
When “things” are positioned in places that Suga sees fit within his work, the continuity of the slight disparity in the arrangement of these “things” seems to create rhythms, imbalances, atmosphere and energy, which are comfortably communicated to the viewer. From seeing “things” represent forms and scenes that are different from what we have known, we embrace a sense of freedom and liberation in discovering a certain aspect of the world that in essence is multifaceted.
【“Things Exist as They Are” –What Suga’s Works Convey in Our Current Times】
“For example, at the base of a branch is a large tree. In this way, there are things that can be understood by sensing this unseen relationship between that which supports and that which is supported. Our perspective of the world also expands when we think about the continuity in which things depend on one another. (…) Through my works I hope to discern not only the nature of “things” but also human society.”
(“The World Observed Through Things,” Mainichi Shimbun Awards Ceremony, Mainichi Shimbun, January 30, 2016).
“’Things exist as they are.’ One must recognize their existence as it is –feel it themselves, and attempt to communicate it no matter how inept or incompetently. This is in essence a question of how that person lives.”
(“How people see “things” is up to each individual,” Discover Japan, March 6, 2020)
Today, people around the world are required to break away from the values they used to take for granted. Suga’s view of “things” as supporting one another while also acknowledging their respective existence and autonomy is that which seems to have many implications for the relationship between things and people, people and people.
How does this powerful presentation of the world of Suga’s work appear in the eyes of us living today? We welcome viewers to embrace this opportunity to engage with the artist’s latest endeavors.
Kishio Suga was born in Morioka city, Iwate Prefecture in 1944. In 1968 he graduated from the Department of Painting at Tama Art University, and served as a central member of the art movement Mono-ha that took place from the late 1960s to the 1970s. For over 50 years since, Suga has continued to pursue a consistent philosophy and actively develop his artistic practice, paving his own unique path as one of the leading figures of Postwar Japanese art in our times. Even in recent years when the reevaluation of Mono-ha has been gaining much international recognition, he persists in further deepening his contemplation, with his unfaltering passion and enthusiasm for his practice serving to define the presentness of his work.
Since his first solo exhibition in 1968, Suga has presented work on over 400 occasions in numerous exhibitions both within Japan and abroad. Recent years in particular have seen remarkable developments and achievements in his career. In 2016 he held solo exhibitions at Pirelli Foundation’s HangarBiocca in Milan and Dia: Chelsea New York, in addition to a two-person exhibition with Karla Black at The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. He was selected for the 57th Venice Biennale, “VIVA ARTE VIVA” in 2017, receiving high acclaim for Law of Situation in which he recreated of one of his early representative works in the form of an installation floating on water. In that same year Suga participated in the group exhibition “Japanorama: New Vision of JAPAN from 1970,”curated by Yuko Hasegawa that was held at the Centre Pompidou-Metz in France.
Suga’s works are also housed in numerous prominent museums throughout the world including the Centre Pompidou, Dia: Chelsea, the Tate Modern, Dallas Museum of Art, M+, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.