Artist: Kōji Enokura
Venue: Veneklasen Werner, Berlin
Date: January 23 – March 5, 2016
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of Veneklasen Werner, Berlin
VeneKlasen/Werner is pleased to present a solo exhibition of Kōji Enokura (1942–1995), an important figure in post-war Japanese art and a founding member of Mono-ha, the Tokyo-based group of artists who radically redefined Japanese art during the late 1960s and 1970s. This first ever presentation of Enokura’s work in Berlin provides a rare opportunity to reconsider the artist’s unique oeuvre.
Kōji Enokura began his artistic career affiliated with the so-called Mono-ha group, a loose collective of artists whose work developed primarily in response to the cultural and political upheavals of the 1960s. The artists of Mono-ha (translated approximately as “school of things”) shared an interest in breaking from traditional approaches to painting and sculpture. An emphasis on material reality, the expressive potential of substance, and notions of bodily presence, absence and residue, are hallmarks of Mono-ha. Enokura was fascinated by the tension between the visceral potency of materials and the contingency of the body. His 1990 painting, Work, encapsulates this with stark economy: a broad swath of deeply saturated black stain is juxtaposed against raw cotton fabric; attached to Work’s surface, a painted wooden board mimics the form of horizontal stained mark which could be read as shadow or residue. Work traces an action and a presence, dramatizing the material and temporal relationship between the mark and its maker. Notions of time past or encroaching recur in a major late work, Print (STORY & MEMORY No. 1) from 1993. Its stained and painted curtain, installed painting-like in the gallery, is at once static, theatrical and expectant, a remarkable synthesis of conceptual sophistication and aesthetic elegance. Also included in the exhibition are several photographs documenting Enokura’s first mature works. Totally ephemeral in nature, these spatial and sculptural interventions – what Enokura termed “symptoms” – are known today only through the artist’s own photographic recordings. Though documentary in nature, Enokura’s photographs stand as valid artistic statements in their own right and illustrate poignantly Enokura’s passionate search for unconventional beauty in the mundane, the accidental and the overlooked.
Kōji Enokura was born in Tokyo in 1942. He earned a master’s degree from the Oil Painting Department of Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1968 (he later taught there, from 1975 until his death). In 1970 Enokura participated in the 10th Tokyo Biennale, exhibiting alongside prominent Japanese and American artists including Jiro Takamatsu, Susumu Koshimizu, Richard Serra, Christo, and Carl Andre. His participation in the 7th Biennale of Paris, in 1971, for which he received a scholarship award, gained the artist significant attention in Europe. He returned to live and work in Paris throughout 1973 and 1974. In 1974 he had his first solo exhibition outside of Japan, at Neue Galerie der Stadt Aachen, Germany. He participated in the Venice Biennale in 1978 and again in 1980. Enokura died in Tokyo in 1995 and his artistic achievement continues to resonate today. A major retrospective exhibition of Enokura’s work was presented 2005 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. Since that time his works have appeared in countless exhibitions throughout Japan and, more recently, in New York City and Los Angeles. Enokura has been prominently featured in numerous group exhibitions exploring both the importance of Mono-ha within the development of contemporary Japanese art as well as its repercussions internationally, including the major institutional exhibitions Reconsidering Mono-ha, National Museum of Art, Osaka (2005); Re: Quest―Japanese Contemporary Art since the 1970s, Museum of Art, Seoul National University, Korea (2013); and Prima Materia, Punta della Dogana, Venice (2013). Enokura’s works are found in major public collections worldwide including Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; National Museum of Art, Osaka; Guggenheim Abu Dhabi; Japan Foundation, New York; and the Art Institute of Chicago, among many others.