A seminal figure in Tokyo’s Anti-Art movement in the late 1950’s, multidisciplinary artist Tetsumi Kudo (1935 – 1990) left behind a lasting legacy: this autumn, Hauser & Wirth London will host an exhibition of his works, marking 25 years since his passing.
The exhibition will present a selection of work dating from the first ten years that Kudo spent in Paris (1963 – 1972), following the completion of his studies at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts in 1958.
Although marginalised in North America and Europe for many years, Kudo’s influence on subsequent generations of artists has been profound and far-reaching. The artist spent the majority of his career preoccupied with the impact of nuclear catastrophe and the excess of consumer society associated with the post-war economic boom, his interest in these topics intensified upon his exposure to the European intellectual scene.
Developed in the context of post-war Japan and France, Kudo’s practice, which encompasses sculpture, installation and performance-based work, is dominated by a sense of disillusionment with the modern world – its blind faith in progress, technological advancement, and humanist ideals.
Consisting of a die enlarged to over 3.5 square metres with a small circular door allowing the viewer to climb into the dark interior lit with UV light, ‘Garden of the Metamorphosis in the Space Capsule’ will form the exhibition’s focal point, shown alongside examples from his cube and dome series.
In his cube series, small boxes contain decaying cocoons and shells revealing half-living forms – often replica limbs, detached phalli or papier-mâché organs – that merge with man-made items. These sculptures were intended as a comment on the individualistic outlook and eager adoption of mass-production which he found to be prevalent in Europe.
Kudo’s dome works appear as futuristic terrariums: perspex spheres fed by circuit boards or batteries house artificial plant life, soil, and radioactive detritus. What is being cultivated in these mini eco-systems is a grotesque, decomposing fusion of the biological and mechanical, illustrating Kudo’s feeling that with the pollution of nature comes the decomposition of humanity.
The simultaneously political, yet highly aesthetic, characteristic of his sculptural work is at the centre of the contemporary oeuvre.
Hauser & Wirth London, North Gallery
22 September – 21 November 2015
Opening: Monday 21 September, 6 – 8 pm