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チェックと日本の現代美術界についての感想

Yoshihiro Suda in New York

2009年11月20日


New York, Fall 2009. In this city of skyscrapers and overblown commercial art, perhaps one of the biggest surprises of my recent trip was to stumble upon a small, fragile flower growing incongruously out of a crack in a white museum wall: the unmistakable work of Yoshihiro Suda, currently on show at the Asia Society museum in the city. I had not expected to find his work on show here (I was here for an interview), so it was a total delight to encounter a small exhibit of flowers in the Big Apple by this brilliant Japanese contemporary artist.

“Yoshihiro Suda In Focus” is in fact a one room show at this museum in the Upper East Side, in which a distinctive carved white magnolia is mounted in a plinth, alongside selections made by Suda himself of Asian antiques from the Rockefeller collection. The flower is based on one he found walking across Central Park. Another one “unofficially” has been planted in the wall outside. There is more than a little of the Hiroshi Sugimotos about the official presentation, and it got me thinking again about a very interesting conversation I had with Atsuko Koyanagi when I interviewed her in late 2007. Suda obviously can be linked to traditional and classic forms and aesthetics in his work. The carvings evoke netsuke, small toggles made out of wood in the Edo period, as well of course as the classic tradition of ikebane. Yet, as Koyanagi emphasises, while mentioning Olafur Eliasson and Japanese architect Junya Ishigami, his approach to questioning the white cube and the environmental concerns of his installation are unquestionably at the edge of contemporary art practice. In global terms, his work is, I think, quite unique. Yet again, though, it has been a desperately slow process to see it getting due recognition on the world stage, perhaps because it is just too subtle and intelligent for most gaudy artworld tastes. Still, this is the second show in recent times by Suda in the US, following an important exhibition at the Contemporary Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii.

It is clear that curator Miwako Tezuka’s contribution as a curator at New York’s Asia Society museum has been to start to bring a serious Japanese contemporary focus to a museum limited by space and a tendency to preserve a rather conservative view on the Asian arts. If the bookstore is any indication, there is much to be done as far as Japan is concerned. While the small Japanese shelf is a poorly selected and inadequate range of works mostly on classical Japanese art, the huge Chinese shelf is packed full of the current range of expensive picture books, catalogues and beginners guides on Chinese contemporary art, marshalled by the museum’s director and China specialist Melissa Chiu. The big Yoshitomo Nara show that Tezuka is planning for next Fall in New York City will hopefully bring more of a balance.

Suda’s work hasn’t changed fundamentally since his breakthrough in the early 1990s. His output, like much of the best work in Japanese contemporary art, is small scale, intensive work that emphasises craft, labour, time, economy, and sustainability in its production. What once looked like a nostalgic return to some sort of rural Japanese lost past, now looks like a visionary work in touch with a new, fragile age. Suda in fact made his breakthrough as an open air Ginza artist – at the time of the Gimburart movement – renting a parking lot to show off some carved weeds inside a large silver box. Most passers-by didn’t notice what was going on. While most art today is an assault on the senses in a world of perpetual attention deficiency disorder, Suda’s leaves open the possibility that you might not see it all. As he says in an interview with Tezuka for the New York show: “What cannot be seen is also part of the spectrum of seeing.” Very well said.

Until 7th February 2010

http://www.asiasociety.org/events-calendar/yoshihiro-suda-focus

ADRIAN FAVELL
http://www.adrianfavell.com

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Yoshihiro Suda in New York
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