David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of recent and new works by Yutaka Sone, on view at the gallery’s 525 West 19th Street location. This will be the artist’s seventh solo show since his first exhibition with the gallery in 1999.
Across a wide range of media—predominantly sculpture but also painting, drawing, photography, video, and performance—Sone’s work revolves around a tension between realism and perfection. A conceptual framework, paired with a meticulous attention to detail, has characterized his practice since the early 1990s, informing equally his self-contained jungle environments, life-size roller coasters, magnified snowflakes, and staged events. His sculptural works in particular attest to a profound interest in landscapes, whether natural or architectural, and their extraordinary ability to capture light relates them to a genre primarily associated with painting and photography.
The exhibition features a new group of canvases depicting scenes at night. The motifs were taken from the artist’s large-scale, white marble sculptures and respectively show an amusement park roller coaster, Los Angeles highway intersection, and Hong Kong and Manhattan cityscapes. With their black backdrops illuminated by brightly painted artificial lights, the paintings contrast with the purity of their sculptural counterparts, yet similarly present their subjects as archetypal landscapes somehow unaffected by the life that circulates within them.
The marble sculpture Movie Theater (2013) continues Sone’s interest in rendering light in three dimensions. For his earlier Light in between Trees series (2010), shards of light surrounding snowcapped trees or stumps were given physical form, welding abstract and figurative shapes. Here, a beam emerging from a projection window materializes into a large triangular geometrical object hovering over the audience as a roof.
Also on view are life-sized sculptures of palm trees, which embody the ongoing dialogue within Sone’s oeuvre between natural and man-made structures. Made in collaboration with local artisans in the Michoacán region of Mexico, the trees are meticulously crafted from rattan, which is woven around a metal armature. The process will be documented in a forthcoming film by the artist, Michoacán Report, which is partially inspired by French Nobel Prize winning author J.M.G. Le Clézio’s 1985 thesis on the region, and the history of the area’s Aztec forebearers. It comprises numerous images in close succession interweaving the creation of the palm trees and the broader context of the lost civilization. Sample scripts and posters for the film will be presented alongside the trees in the exhibition, with the installation doubling as a storyboard.
The sculptures are juxtaposed with “sky and palm tree head” paintings that Sone creates from his garden in Los Angeles. Context and extraneous details are omitted and the evergreen crowns assume equal importance to the encompassing areas of blue sky, with bold brushstrokes adding atmospheric impressions. Measuring between one and two meters tall, these new works are Sone’s largest in the medium to date.
Born in 1965 in Shizuoka, Japan, Yutaka Sone studied fine art and architecture at Tokyo Geijutsu University. He had his first United States solo exhibition at David Zwirner, New York, in 1999, the same year he joined the gallery. In 2013, Sculpture marked his first solo show at the gallery’s London location.
The artist’s large-scale marble sculpture of the island of Manhattan, Little Manhattan (2007-2009), is currently on view on The High Line, New York (though March 2016). In 2014, Sone was commissioned by the Sifang Art Museum in Nanjing, China to create Snow Leopard Garden, a major permanent installation composed of approximately one hundred tons of stones and live plants depicting a snow leopard. In 2013, a two-person exhibition of work done in collaboration by Sone and Benjamin Weissman was presented at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in California. Sone’s work was recently the subject of two solo exhibitions in Tokyo: Perfect Moment at the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery in 2011 and Snow at the Maison Hermès Le Forum in 2010. Baby Banana Tree, the artist’s 25-foot tall hand-painted sculpture, was installed in 2009 as a public artwork at the Boone Sculpture Garden at Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California.
Other venues which have recently hosted important solo exhibitions include Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, London (2007); Kunsthalle Bern; Aspen Art Museum, Colorado; The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (all 2006); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2003); and the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Toyota, Japan (2002). The artist represented Japan, along with Motohiko Odani, at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003.
Sone has participated in numerous group exhibitions in the United States and abroad, including The Garden of Diversion at the Sifang Art Museum, Nanjing, China (2013) and Glasstress 2011, organized as part of the 54th Venice Biennale at the Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti (2011). A version of the show traveled to the Museum of Arts and Design, New York (2012). Other major group shows include the 12th Triennale Kleinplastik Fellbach, Fellbach, Germany (2013); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2004); 25th São Paulo Biennial; 13th Biennale of Sydney (both 2002); 7th Istanbul Biennial (2001); 48th Venice Biennale (1999); among others.
Work by the artist is held in prominent international museum collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; Kunsthalle Bern; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Gallery, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. He lives and works in Los Angeles.