Jiro Takamatsu And The Subtlety Of Shadows

Federico Tibytt

The National Museum of Art in Osaka, Japan, presents a retrospective of one of the most outstanding figures of Japanese postwar visual art.

Takamatsu (1936-1998) was one of the brightest postwar artists in Japan. His transgressive oeuvre was inspired by elements of the artistic movements of his era, such as surrealism, dadaism, and minimalism. It is fair to say he used those concepts and techniques to develop his imagery, which vigorously expressed his political and social beliefs. More on art and culture.

Jiro Takamatsu

In a tribute to the artist, the National Museum of Art in Osaka, Japan, will present a retrospective of his work from April 7 to July 5, 2015. The exhibition titled Work Path will display more than 300 drawings on paper—in chronological order— elucidating Takamatsu’s development as an artist, representing the different stages of his production. The display will also showcase some of his final projects, books on design and documentary photographs.

Born in 1936 and graduated from the National University of Fine Arts in Tokyo in 1958, Takamatsu developed a critical view of the role of art in society and provided a particular esthetic perspective. He believed in expanding boundaries and techniques, expressing himself in different media, such as sculpture, painting, drawing, photography and performance.

The artist participated in several breakaway art cooperatives like the Hi Red Center, where members sought to expand art beyond the confines of exhibitions. He also took part in urban interventions and removed his works from museums and galleries in protest. In this climate of postwar social reconstruction, the intention of artists like Takamatsu was to cross the border between art and reality and to “bring expression to daily life”.

Jiro Takamatsu

Inspired by the imagery of shadows in 19th century art, Takamatsu in 1964 immersed himself in a period of prolific production and experimentation. He used the casting of shadows to create paintings, drawings, installations, and sculptures, expressing a brilliant and overwhelming subtlety in his work. His 1964-1998 series of paintings, dedicated to shadows, demonstrate his meticulous study of technique when painting in enamel and acrylic.

The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, Japan, recently presented an exhibition of his works, organized by the renowned architectural firm Torafu Architects. The show displayed the creative genius of the artist, and through the distribution of experiential spaces, invited the visitor to explore the artists vision.

Jiro Takamatsu

Visitors to the exhibit would enter a dim lit room where one of Takamatsu‘s sculptures would be backlit, casting an overlay of shadows. The effort was to reproduce the artist’s creative process and allow the guests to discover. The main hall was a replica of Takamatsu’s studio highlighting a series of design books that paid homage to the artist’s prolific work.

As evidenced by both exhibitions, Jiro Takamatsu is a supreme example of the esthetic and philosophical expression of modern art, always taking into account the dichotomy of its origin and context.

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