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- Dates 21 May 2021, 12:00PM - 20 June 2021, 5:00PM
Bunpei Kado won the 2019 Sanwa Contemporary Art Award with an artwork that took the jury by surprise. It was made using climbing holds. I think even people familiar with these climbing holds would not have guessed that they could be used as important elements of an artwork. In Kado’s piece, the holds are arranged like the stones in a Japanese rock garden. The bright, colorful holds would never belong in an actual zen temple, of course. There is a strange contrast at play here – ancient Japanese culture dressed in bright, gaudy colors, associating them with sports or with expectations towards the upcoming Olympic Games. Movements of the body become linked with art. Such a well-timed and essentially ‘Japanese’ work of contemporary art came as a surprise, and the judges were unanimous in their decision.
Looking at Kado’s past works, we actually find that he consistently employs a strange and unique language of expression. In a way, it is a poetic way of thinking. The motif that appeared in his works the most is that of the house shape. This ‘house’ does not refer to buildings in a city or to architecture but instead it seems to symbolize a home in which people live. These houses are used as elements and inserted into their surroundings in unexpected ways – sometimes they seem like nomads on a swaying ship, other times they are placed on small foundations. Other subjects, like trees, animals or ships, are also handled like the parts of a small installation. From the juxtaposition of elements emerges a new syntax. Are the buds sprouting on top of the bear an ironic take on nature? Without regarding a number of examples, it is difficult to recognize the underlying principles well enough. But once you begin to understand this language of his own, the meanings suddenly seem to change. This process feels like a kind of awakening, mixed with surprise. Will his new exhibition, which continues his past techniques, allow us new kinds of awakenings?
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