Kayne Griffin Corcoran is pleased to announce our forthcoming exhibition of work by Jiro Takamatsu. This will be the first solo exhibition by Japanese artist, Jiro Takamatsu (1936–1998), with a gallery in the greater Los Angeles area. The exhibition will include a monumental sculptural work, Rusty Ground, originally exhibited in Documenta 6 (1977), a selection of paintings from the “Shadow” series, a large number of drawings from categorically different stages in the artist’s career, as well as photographs.
Jiro Takamatsu's career spanned over forty years, during which time his considerable influence extended as an artist, theorist and teacher in Japanese postwar culture. He represented Japan at the Venice Biennale (Carlo Cardazzo Price, 1968); exhibited at the Paris Biennial (1969); Sao Paulo Biennial (1973); and Documenta 6, Kassel (1977). Most recently, Takamatsu has been the subject of major retrospectives in Japan, staged at The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (2014) and The National Museum of Modern Art, Osaka (2015). These two exhibitions were curated from differing perspectives and offered a comprehensive overview of the artist’s oeuvre. This exhibition at Kayne Griffin Corcoran offers a timely re-evaluation of Takamatsu’s practice following significant reviews of Japanese avant-garde art across the globe.
In the early 1960s, Takamatsu co-founded Hi Red Center, an experimental art collective that staged guerrilla style Happenings in vibrant gestures of anti-art (known as “han-geijutsu”). Taking place during a period of rapid development in Japan, their actions should be seen in tandem with the international Fluxus movement and as developing from the Japanese Gutai group’s earlier avant-garde manifestos. Takamatsu sought to take art outside of the confines of traditional and institutional settings, collapsing the boundaries between art and life. In the late 1960s, his body of work and its concepts were a major influence to Mono-ha artists (the Japanese “mono” meaning thing(s) and “ha” means school), who were the generation proceeding Takamatsu. Linking to Arte Povera and Post-Minimalism, Mono-ha celebrated the use of natural materials and objects, emphasizing the importance of materiality and the environment. The artists of Mona-ha presented things as they were, while intending to present “relations” and “situations” that were formed by these things and the networks between them.
Drawing appears to have been the creative activity that Takamatsu most habitually engaged in through his life. The drawings present the resources underpinning the development of the artist’s thinking, they did not have a secondary existence to the paintings and three-dimensional works. Rather, they are completed illustrations of their own concepts on sheets of paper. Different types of paper were chosen; drawing paper, tracing paper, graph paper, etc. were used. Takamatsu worked in various sizes ranging from postcard to large drawings on sheets measuring over three feet on one side.
The forty-year trajectory of Takamatsu’s career can and has been organized into categorical series. These classifications are not exclusive from one another and have often been considered simultaneously while in the process of development. For example, “Space in Two-Dimensions” (1977-1982), a series prominently represented in this exhibition, was born alongside the conclusion of the “Compound” era (1974-1977), and mingled in complex mutual relationships with the series’ “Space” and “Poles and Space” (1977-1982). Well before the “Compound” era, Takamatsu began his exploration into the philosophical depths of absence as a state of pure potentiality. In this phase, the artist began his use of the shadow as source material. Early “Shadow” era works began in 1964 and the exploration continued throughout the artist’s life.
The “Compound” series focused on two or more objects. Takamatsu combined ordinary things like bricks and ladders in ways that rendered them idle. This approach also negated the words "brick" and "ladder." Reduced to simple vertical, horizontal, and diagonal elements, the objects could then be used to represent physical laws. Takamatsu later expanded on this idea by trying to eliminate one dimension of a solid to make a plane. He then reintroduced the lost dimension to show that objects do not necessarily retain their original form and are likely to become distorted in the transition from, say, two to three dimensions. One concrete example is the “Space in Two Dimensions” series, which often recalls a geometric pattern or schematic drawing, but as the title suggests, is not intended to depict a space but rather to be one. Thus these works are not, in the strictest sense, painting or drawing.
At the exhibition’s helm, is a re-staging of one of Jiro Takamatsu’s experimental installations from the “Compound” series, Rusty Ground. It is shown alongside supporting material from the realization of the work. The sculpture, comprised of iron and wire, establishes a precarious balance between fragility and solidity. Takamatsu employed materials in a desire to encounter the sights of the natural world as they were by freeing the materials from their own properties. As much as material plays a significant role in this monumental installation, the use of perspective is also activated. The shift of the grid as it is one with the ground and the slight verticality of plane draws a 2-dimensional platform into the third dimension. Rusty Ground not only compounds materials (iron and wire) but it also acts as a drawing in space.
The sculpture The Poles and Space No. 964, represented in the exhibition by both drawings and maquettes, saw the artist moving away from two-dimensional works dealing with two and three dimensions, toward fabricating works that consisted of three-dimensional objects dealing with three dimensions. While Takamatsu did participate in the usage of objects, it should be noted that perspective was one of Takamatsu’s main subjects. He employed objects as a tool in pursuit of perspective and to make certain experiments with perceptual laws. Takamatsu was designing the aspects in which plural perspectives can both balance each other and simultaneously deny each other’s superiority.
Takamatsu’s most famous series, “Shadow”, was created over a long period from 1964 until his last years. These works depict the invisible or an ‘absence’ that calls into question the viewer’s own perspective when standing in front of them. He began the series by depicting familiar motifs, such as a hand, a woman, and the artist himself. The project was then expanded to include architectural elements and phenomenal ‘peculiar shadows’ that originated form various light sources. Takamatsu also created many small works depicting tableaus such as keys and hair brushes. Furthering the artist’s research with perspectives, the shadow possesses a comprehensive nature through which the artist was able to confront the world at large.
Rooted in vast philosophical origins, Takamatsu’s practice shifts across appearance and materials. He worked to create relationships between objects and languages fixed to the real existence and the psychological form of existence. Takamatsu observed the world in an expanded view from under a microscope. He boiled down thought while simultaneously exploring the infinite as seen in Sketch for the World Expansion Project (1968) – "Look at the act of people looking at things and observe how limited their view of things is." He worked with this idea through his use of object, language, painting, viewer, and physical space. His work, in the end, was a search for his own existence through the medium of his art.