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Tadanori Yokoo Incomplete - What's yours is mine. What's mine is mine.
Written by Satoshi KOGANEZAWA   
Published: December 04 2009

fig. 1 "Installation of waterfall" (1999 / 2009); mixed media, courtesy of the artist and 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

fig. 2 View from "Tadanori Yokoo Incomplete - What's yours is mine. What's mine is mine." exhibition at 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, courtesy of 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

fig. 3 "Owari-no-bigaku” (1966); acrylic on canvas, 52.5×65.5cm, Ikko Tanaka Design Studio, copyright © Tadanori Yokoo, courtesy of the artist and 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa.

fig. 4 "Kanojo-no-oshiri-ha-atsui" (2007); "Owari-no-bigaku” (1966); acrylic on canvas, 52.5×65.2cm, the artist's collection, copyright © Tadanori Yokoo, courtesy of the artist and 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa.

    Reaching the final part of the exhibition, I stepped into a small room with my shoes off [fig. 1]. At that moment, I could not help having a somewhat bad sensation that I was standing in a space where there was a light source which I had already noticed before entering the room since the light had been mysteriously leaking from the inside of the room. While walking around the room, I felt a soft texture of the floor on which a number of mirrors had been paved all over. On the walls and ceiling, there were a vast number of picture cards on which waterfalls are depicted. The mirrors attached on the floor reflected the cards deforming their images, which confused the viewers as to which direction the cards should be viewed from. Then I finally noticed that pictures of waterfalls and something that looked like craftworks displayed on the upper sections of the walls at the entrance of each exhibition room played an introductory role to allow viewers to enjoy this installation. I imagined that an infinite number of sounds of streaming waterfalls were echoing with each other throughout the room.

    The exhibition entitled “Tadanori Yokoo Incomplete – What’s yours is mine. What’s mine is mine.”, which was held at The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, showed Tadanori Yokoo’s creations compactly by utilizing the characteristic structure of the venue which was composed of exhibition rooms of varying size. As for Yokoo’s recent exhibition, “Tadanori Yokoo Be Adventurous!”, which was held at Setagaya Art Museum and Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art in 2008, still remains fresh in my mind. Nevertheless, different to the last year exhibition which presented a number of his original drawings focusing on his job as a graphic designer before he declared in 1981 that he would define himself as a painter, the exhibition of this time mainly focused on his paintings. In the first exhibition room, the “Y Junction” series, created at the venue during the exhibition period,were displayed with the images of their creating scenes. They blew my mind more intensely than those which he made in 2001 at the first phase of creating the series because the series shown this time gave me a free-feeling and sharp impressions because of their creating style, extemporization [fig. 2].

    Regarding the display form of this exhibition, what I was particularly interested in was that Yokoo’s creations were shown in such a way as to make viewers feel as if they were created without relation to time series. For instance, the “Shuppatsu, Shinko” (acrylic paints/canvas, 45.5cm×60.6cm, private collection, 2006) and the “Kanojo-no-oshiri-wa-atsui” (acrylic paints/canvas, 53.0cm×65.2cm, collection of the artist, 2007) [fig. 4], both of which were made based on the overall image of the “Owari-no-bigaku” (acrylic paints/canvas, 52.5cm×65.5cm, Ikko Tanaka Design Studio, 1966) [fig. 3] while varying it in part, were displayed together. Needless to say, Yokoo’s works can be said to have been “progressing” in that the number of variations of them has been increasing for about thirty years since he announced that he would engage in creative activities as a painter. Nonetheless, as shown in the title of this exhibition, “What’s yours is mine. What’s mine is mine.”, he seems to have been creating works connecting various kinds of images freely. This was reflected in his creating style in which he made his creations “extracting” from his past works and, as exhibited this time, critically depicted “subsequent” stories inspired by Rousseau’s creations and using a drawing form which is similar to Rousseau’s. Indeed, in this exhibition, we can find good examples of his creating style as mentioned above in the installation which was created using postcards made by others, on which pictures of waterfalls are depicted, and the “Yokoo’s Studio” in which general viewers could participate in reproducing Yokoo’s creations and their works were displayed.

    In addition, it is notable that the accumulation of such “extractions” has been contributing to having created Yokoo’s originality and that this is the main theme of this exhibition set by the organizer. In fact, at the present time, such acts as “reproducing” and “extracting” seem to be assessed lower than in the past due to the prevalence of the word “originality”. Such conducts were considered to be essential in creating works by artists in the pre-modern age. When I look at past works which were created sophisticatedly by learning predecessors’ techniques and “imitating” their creations, I feel that the artworks represent a sense of respect for these artists. It is difficult for us to find “historical” relationships between today’s works and those of past since the genre of art has been diversifying and artists are required to be matched to the latest fashion in the art field. This would be the reason most of the current artworks leave us with a frivolous impression and this “frivolousness” is considered to be the characteristic of the “modern age”. What a futile trend it is!

I would like to add here that in fact Yokoo seems to have been creating his works in such a “free” way as shown in the title, “What’s yours is mine. What’s mine is mine.” Nonetheless, this phrase does not represent an exclusive feature of Yokoo’s. Rather, it represents an orthodox creating style of artists in the past. What does it mean then that this kind of catchphrase was used as the title of this exhibition? It would represent the current situation in the art field which mostly breaks ties with its past. Indeed, most of Yokoo’s creations make me laugh with their humour, but they include not only the lightness but also weight. This is because of Yokoo’s open-minded attitude with which he has not been misled by trendy words, such as “originality” and “personality”, while keeping firmly the existence of “I” in his mind. This exhibition seems to raise a question about the great possibility of art which would be realized by the above-mentioned Yokoo’s creating style.
(Translated by Nozomi Nakayama)

Last Updated on October 24 2015

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