The Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain presented, for the first time outside of Japan, an exhibition dedicated to the painting of Japanese artist Tadanori Yokoo. Playing with styles from different periods, this 1960s and 1970s avant-garde graphic design icon developed an idiosyncratic language based on repetition and appropriation, going so far as to pastiche even his own compositions. In 1980, he decided to limit his graphic arts work by devoting himself mainly to painting, exploring themes emerging from personal as well as collective memory, such as death, war, society, life, spirituality and dreams. Yokoo's works are deeply rooted in the culture of his native country and reflect the changes that were taking place in post- war Japan.
The exhibition presented a large selection of paintings from his red series. This color, metaphorically suggestive of death, seems to obsess the artist. In this series, as in all of the works by the artist, each element's place in the composition is the result of the mental associations it makes with the others, dictated entirely by the artist's subjectivity: "There is an area in the subconscious that merges with the conscious mind. If you consider these two poles outside modern ways of thinking, then the source of my inspiration is indeed unconscious and archaic."
Waterfall Perspective (2006), the large-scale installation consisting of 3700 postcards and a painting that covered an entire wall of the exhibition in a gigantic collage, adheres to the artist's most cherished compositional principles: borrowing, citing, repeating an obsessive motif. At the same time, it amplifies the metaphor of collapse-found throughout his oeuvre-to unprecedented proportions.
The selection of graphic works exhibited on the mezzanine gave a brief survey of the illustrations created by Yokoo between 1965 and 1997. Commissioned by a wide variety of clients such as museums, theatres, publishers or fashion designers, they attest to Yokoo's close ties with artists such as Yukio Mishima, Issey Miyake and more recently, Naoki Takizawa.
March 4 - May 28, 2006
Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris, France