2015年01月18日

The most uninteresting thing of Takamatsu Jiro's works

I saw the exhibition of「高松次郎ミステリーズ」at The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. In spite of growing the reputation of Takamatsu Jiro in recent years, I hadn't thought his works interesting so much. I expected this exhibition would teach me the appeal of his works, but on the contrary, it was curated as if it intended to intensify my dislike for his works.

The weakest point of Takamatsu's works I think is the tendency that his works tend to look like an illustration of the explanation when he (or someone) puts the words of explanation on them. The more he puts the words of explanation, the more they look like an illustration of explanation. The works of ≪影≫ series, that is the one with the most impressive visual images in Takamatsu's works, is good sample for that. Obviously, they become dull when they are added the words of explanation.
This was what this exhibition did. They considered Takamatsu's works were based on his deep philosophical thoughts, and tried to explain the works along them. I think that is the most effective method to make Takamatsu's works look boring.

I think the Takamatsu's essential nature was an image maker. He had a distinguished talent for creating striking images.
However, his talent as an image maker tends to make his works look as graphic works that are distinguished but shallow. I consider it was his nature as an image maker that required the philosophical thoughts of his works. He needed them for making his works look as art works. The order was the reverse.

It might be due to his talent for creating striking images that his works tend to look like the illustration of explanation. They tended to look like the illustration for something essentially.
I think Takamatsu himself was aware of the weakness in some degree. If there is something that I take some interest in Takamatsu's works, it is to find his struggle against the limit of his ability.
In fact, we can see his effort to overcome the weakness in some of his works around 1970, for example the work of『石と数字(1969)』 which was made from his action of writing numbers on stones on a riverside. In that work, neither his action nor the stones become the illustration of the explanation, because we can find the explanation of this works not outside of the work but inside of his action itself.
And the summits of his effort to overcome the limit are the works of 『日本語の文字(1970)』and 『英語の単語(1970)』, or ≪この七つの文字≫ and ≪THESE THREE WORDS≫. In these works, the visual images and the words became one. I think it was the peak of his entire works. He had reached something at this point.

After reaching the summits, Takamatsu began paintings. It is difficult to interpret Takamatsu's painting works of his later years.
My view is this. In the beginning, his words and thoughts were the mere explanations of his works. The relation between the words and the images was an accessory one. However, through the struggle to overcome the limit, he bridged the gap between the words and images and they united into one at the works of ≪この七つの文字≫ and ≪THESE THREE WORDS≫. He reached the peak of something at this point.
After that, I think that he began to try to think by painting. He might have tried to enter a new phase of relationship between words and images. In that try, the words of explanation were not the things that existed outside of the works in advance, but they were the things that he would find through painting the works. It was not an uncommon thing but an common act that every painters are doing ordinarily. However, the process he could reach the state was uncommon and interesting.

The view of the curators of this exhibition was contrary. They emphasized the consistency of his works. (It was reflected in the design of the floor plan of the exhibition.) They said the Takamatsu's paintings are different from the common paintings. They brought the book of Lao-tze from the Takamatsu's book shelf and explained his paintings were based on his thought that was affected by Lao-tze. I think it was the most boring way of seeing his paintings. In that view, the paintings go back to the illustration of the thoughts. The curators obviously can't see the flow of his works.
Of course, the view could be the explanation of the reason why the Takamatsu's paintings are boring. I think that the reason is because he could not get away from the thinking with words completely. However, if there is something that I take some interest in Takamatsu's paintings, it is to find his struggle against the limit of his ability in them.

I admit that Takamatsu was a distinguished artist. I admit that he had a splendid talent for making striking images and his nature as an artist was unique.
However, I don't think what he thought was so unique. It's true that they look profound and difficult, but I don't think they are so original compared with his works themselves. If I gave the most uninteresting thing of Takamatsu's works, it is his thoughts.
Therefore, hypothesizing that Takamatsu's works are based on the deep philosophical thoughts that are as mysterious as we hardly understand and trying to see the works through searching for the answer of the mysteries is the worst way of seeing his works. And I think that is the reason why this exhibition was boring.



「高松次郎ミステリーズ」
東京国立近代美術館(2014年12月2日〜2015年3月1日)
http://www.momat.go.jp/Honkan/takamatsujiro/

posted by 3 at 18:01| Diary

2015年01月11日

Books without words

The first exhibition I saw this year was「イエラ・マリ展‐字のない絵本の世界」at Itabashi Art Museum. It was a wonderful exhibition, so I think it will be a good year for me.
In the exhibition, I enjoyed the Iela Mari's elaborate drawing skill from the original illustrations of her picture books. Nowadays, we tend to use computer graphic softwares to draw such kind of illustration. After all, some of them are simple colored circles. They look as exact as a circle that is drawn by computer, but they are never the same as the one. Unlike a circle drawn by computer, the Mari's hand drawn circles include vast information. We can sense it even from the printed books. I think picture book without words is the best media for recognizing the kind of excellence of her illustrations.

In the exhibition, I could see not only Mari's picture books but also many others' picture books without words in the world: from the classics, for example Bruno Murari, Anno Mitsumasa, Dick Bruna, Edward Gorey, Lynd Ward and so on, to many fantastic picture books that I had never seen. I wanted to bring all the books back to my home. It was like a treasure land.
Books without words are the special things for me. When I was a kid, from 12 to 15 years old, I lived in Milan because of my father's business. Owing to lack of language skill, I could not read any Italian books in spite of the fact that I was very fond of books. (Language ability have always been the weak point in my life.) However, one day I found a picture book that had no words. There were quite a few cartoons and picture books without words in bookstores in Milan. Although I didn't read the Iela Mari's picture books, I was really into the world of the wordless books. My most favorite artist in those days was Guillermo Mordillo. His book was also featured in this exhibition.

I can't imagine any other media that is able to include such vast world like the books without words. It is as limitless as the universe. I consider it comes from the feature of book. Neither silent films nor a piece of picture is comparable to it. Only the books without words can hold such a limitless possibility. They look like the existence that transcends the laws of this world.
Today, we are living in the complicated world. In our time, I consider it is very important to avoid becoming a fundamentalist, because there are so many persons who believe different kind of creed. One firmly believes that freedom of expression should be respected above all else, but the other believes the religious faith overwhelms it. It is difficult to find a settlement when different creeds conflict. It goes without saying that violence is the worst solution. On the other hand, insisting on own creed will not reach any solution. It is very difficult to keep own faith with respecting others' faith. Therefore our world is filled with the huge amount of meaningless violence and hates.
In such a situation, I think only the things like the books without words might be able to solve the conflicts. This idea has no foundation, but I sensed it when I saw the Iela Mari's and others' picture books without words.



「イエラ・マリ展 ‐ 字のない絵本の世界」
板橋区立美術館(2014年11月22日〜2015年1月12日)
http://www.itabashiartmuseum.jp/exhibition/ex141122.html

posted by 3 at 19:08| Diary