| EN |

Tadaaki KUWAYAMA: A Retrospective -Out of Silence-
Written by Tomohiro MASUDA   
Published: December 09 2010

    "A spread on both sides comes into your sight. Above all, the gap or space between the work and viewer stuns us. This gap in "viewing" does not slip away transparently. That, in itself, is a problem."*1

fig. 1 Untitled:brown,blue,gray,purple,beige, 1966
Courtesy of Nagoya City Art Museum

fig. 2 Untitled:gold and silver, 2008
Courtesy of Nagoya City Art Museum

fig. 3 Untitled:gold and silver, 2003
Courtesy of Nagoya City Art Museum

fig. 4 Unititled:gold and silver, 2003
Courtesy of Nagoya City Art Museum

    As Masanori Ichikawa indicates, Tadaaki Kuwayama's paintings lead your eyes to a field where the act of "viewing" takes place. For example, his work "untitled" (acrylic on canvas, 1966) (see figure 1) consists of four panels, painted in metallic colors, put together. These so-called monochrome paintings remind me of the abstract paintings of Ad Reinhardt et al. However, with Kuwarhara’s paintings, it is difficult to feel the same sense of absorption that I feel when I stand before Reinhardt's pictures which will immerse me in a deep layer of colors, and embrace me. It is because the edges of the picture plank and the inorganic aluminum rims crisscross the center of the picture placing flickering in your sight when you see Kuwayama's works from afar as well as from up-close. That is why you can't immerse yourself in the paintings' space. The way Kuwayama paints his pictures in metallic colors also strengthens these effects. Spotlights illuminate the metallic colored pictures. The light slides across the pictures' surfaces and folds back to your eyes as light itself rather than shedding light onto the paintings' surface to show clearly what they are. You can't view Kuwayama's painting as a representation or a reproduction of something, nor immerse yourself inside it. Therefore, Kuwayama's paintings make us feel uncomfortable and reveal an unusual sense of tension in the act of viewing. By looking at his works this way, I think Kuwayama is more interested in the ideological field which lies between his works and us. It is a field in which a painting is recognized as a painting.

    The works that might be called space installation started in the late 90's which Satoshi Yamada defines as an "age of materials".*2 They are also considered to be an extension of his previous paintings. His late work "untitled: gold and silver" (anodized aluminum, each color 8 pieces, 2008) (see figure 2) has weight-like objects painted in gold and silver alternately arranged. The homogeneous surface coating, not allowing any unevenness, changes the reflection of light as you walk around showing fresh expressions before your eyes. However, this work does not seem to present these weight-like objects themselves as art work. That alone is the smallest unit which constitutes a space (it is "unit" if I borrow Kuwayama's terminology). The space made by integrating those units becomes the "art".*3 This space is not required to have any functions in our daily life. Kuwayama worked to evolve his works from paintings to space installations. By doing so, he developed his works into a space in which an atmosphere of art is created.

    However, I think there is a big difference between these works presented as paintings and his works of "age of materials" that are categorized as a sort of installation. For example, the "untitled: gold and silver" described above has linoleum sheets put on the floor to yield a dazzling white space. You would be asked to take off your shoes. And you would appreciate the work while you carefully walked around. And "untitled: gold and silver" (anodized aluminum, 2 panels, 2003) (see figure 3 and 4) is also made with inorganic units that look like industrial components. The units are placed much higher than our eyes. Indeed, these are obviously different spaces from the ones we see daily. This exhibition space itself was designed for viewers to perceive and appreciate Kuwayama's units as works from the moment you take off your shoes, or from the moment you cock your heads up. His works that look like pieces of industrial components do not change the space, but they are designed in a way such that your perception will transfigure the space into art. It can be said that this could be the point greatly different in the character of his paintings.

    Although Kuwayama's painting works are presented as paintings in their format and form, they refuse to be seen as some representative images or reproductions. That refusal reveals the gap between viewers and the works. The works of the "age of materials" have their foundation in the gap between viewers and works. To put it another way, it requires physical actions such as taking off our shoes or cocking up our heads as inevitable manners when we see the works, and these actions force us to unconsciously switch our perception mode to view or experience something not commonplace or (usually considered) works of art. This gap which lies between the works and people switches their conscious unconsciously and changes the space into something called art. Given this, I would say that this space itself couldn't be considered as art.

    However, it is a different story if Kuwayama deliberately designed it this way to have your perception switch unconsciously by viewing or experiencing so you start to see something as an art. Speaking plainly and wildly, the phenomenon that those smooth weights start to look like art comes into effect because they are placed meaningfully in a gallery. And Kuwayama's works reveal our insensitivity to recognize something instantly as an art when they are placed in an institutional setting. And if I am right, then I could say that the space created by Kuwayama was a "non-art space". There exists neither zen beauty nor pure art but only a nihilistic gap. That is the reason why this is an anomalous space we can't turn away from.
(Translated by Yoshikazu Noda)


*1    Masanori Ichikawa "Tadaaki Kuwayama: from works to space" for "Tadaaki Kuwayama, One-room project 2006", Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Nagoya City Art Museum, 2006, p. 2

*2    "Tadaaki KUWAYAMA: A Retrospective -Out of Silence-", Nagoya City Art Museum, 2010, p.52

*3    The book above-mentioned, p.51

Referred exhibition

"Tadaaki KUWAYAMA: A Retrospective -Out of Silence-", Nagoya City Art Museum, April 24 - May 30, 2010

Last Updated on December 28 2010

| EN |