Navigation and Trajectory
10:00am-6:00pm, October 24 — December 13, 2015/ admission free
photo: YAMAMOTO Tadasu
Reality and feelings through tactile vision
Three-dimensional artworks may be said to resemble some sort of objects though there are different ways of perceiving various phases of them. Phases of similarity are varied. There is resemblance in forms, structures, rules, functions, and feelings. Regardless of the tangible and the intangible, such similarities become thin threads that connect artworks and viewers. It can be said that where and how they resemble each other indicate an important grammar and syntax in each work. Many works of KIMURA Mitsunori deal with representational images. His way of making them look “similar,” however, comes from grounds different from superficiality.
Kimura says that he is interested in the border between realistic “things” and artworks, and it seems that he does not mean only superficial, realistic description of the object. His ferrero roche produced in 2011 is a sculpture made with oil paints after Ferrero’s chocolate. In this work, a chocolate in which “a roasted hazelnut is covered with hazelnut cream and milk chocolate, and sprinkled with chopped hazelnuts” is reproduced with oil paints in real size. This small brown chunk is not so precisely reproduced as it would be mistaken for a real chocolate. Here, a hazelnut inside, cream, chocolate and chopped hazelnuts on the surface are all made with oil paints, and they are rolled into a ball like a real candy. Thus what is copied is rather the production process of this chocolate. When a sculptor creates a sculpture of some specific subject, it means that a three-dimensional subject is formed into a three-dimensional object using different materials. In Kimura’s work, on the other hand, reproducing the factors and contents such as weight, structure, and its production process in the background of forming the shape comes before visual, superficial similarities.
A similar method is used in The Ancestor is Sleeping produced this time. Japanese marten and monkeys are made into figures with oil paints in The Ancestor is Sleeping, and despite their humorous appearances which remind us of stuffed animals or animal characters, they are reminiscent of oddly fresh meat. Around the almost life-size figures placed on a wooden board, oil from oil paints oozes out, and as they lie down in a lifeless manner, they appear to be sleeping or dead.
These animal sculptures of oil paints are stuffed indeed, and I heard that their weights are almost the same as the respective animal’s average weight. The cute-looking animals laid down show exquisitely how their soft masses of limbs and bodies with weight are loosened powerlessly due to the force of gravity. The forms produced by gravity and a release of moisture create another reality as one form of reality, which would not be possible only through the artist’s observant eye. Oozed oil, massiveness of paint, and the hairy surface, which is moist and shines with texture of oil paint, are perceived tactilely rather than visually, and stimulate instinctive dark senses.
A similarly sculpted group of birds made with oil paints is The Birds in the Cage, in which the artist tried to make sculptures of birds living in shrub thickets to make them look flying. Without hanging them or supporting them, the artist could not make the bird sculptures look flying physically. So he inserted these birds between bamboo sticks so that they would look like flapping their wings. The birds, however, look obstructed by the bamboo sticks and do not look like flying freely. In addition, some of the birds formed by oil paints are dropping from the original positions, deformed or slipped off to the floor presenting a horrible scene. The birds initially made to look flying are distorted by physical conditions and impress us with an unstable and obscure sense of being alive.
The animals, which are in limbo between life and death with oil oozing out of their bodies, turn their backs to us, look in the other direction, or have their eyes shut. In this way, Kimura intentionally blocks their act of looking at viewers, and encourages the viewers to look at the object one-sidedly. The reason why these animals impress us with the strong smell of death rather than a subtle sign of life might be because the crossing of each other’s gaze is cut off. An intentionally concealed gaze makes the viewers become more aware of their own gaze, and as the gaze tinged with an air of violence comes back to the viewers, the negative phase of life might be remembered.
Contrary to the above, the subjects in a series of Bear, Human, and Ape… look straight at us. Various animals produced in these works are made neither particularly abstract nor realistic. They are made simply to “look like” the real counterparts to the extent that we can recognize them. This work is formed with panels, which are called “hair-growing panels” by the artist and designed to make fine splits of wood grain stand out when the surface is shaved. What is emphasized in the iconography of humans as well as animals posing as humans seated with humorous facial expressions is not that the finished subjects look iconographically similar to real animals, but there is a structural similarity in “growing of hair.” Kimura’s answer to a question about the idea behind this production of panels was impressive: “Hair isn’t something to attach afterwards. It grows.” In this work, unlike relief works, the surface is produced by shaving the panel’s surface. And contrary to the oil-paint sculptures in which the physical conditions are made “similar” to those of real objects with regard to the fullness of the content, this wood carving discards filled contents to make superficial conditions “similar.” One might say that this work, in which he tried to reproduce a condition of “growing hair” on the surface like fur, is in a relationship of positive/negative imagery with his oil-paint sculptures. Maybe because the animals are looking straight at us or growing hair reminds us of the organic activity, they stand out against the white panels and appear as beings close to this side of the world.
Actual rules are incorporated into certain parts of Kimura’s work with conceptual precision, and such rules made abstract and restricted give his works an ambiguous sense of life as a result. And the viewer’s gaze toward his work changes the boundaries of such rules. The main theme of his work is not the transience of life as in memento mori, and its humorous outlook sometimes and accordingly hints at a disquieting life paradoxically.
The Ancestors is Sleeping (Two Monkeys)
Oil paints on board, 18×182×182cm,2015.
The Ancestors is Sleeping (Marten)
Oil paints on board, 11×182×91cm,2015.
The Birds in the Cage
Oil paints, bamboo, concrete, 155×354×14cm,2015.
Oil on panel designed to grow fur,
(9 panels), 2015.