Yutaka Kikutake Gallery is pleased to present “Aura,” a solo exhibition featuring the works of Takashi Kunitani from October 3 to October 31, 2020. This marks Kunitani’s inaugural presentation at Yutaka Kikutake Gallery, and first exhibition in 15 years in Tokyo. Introduced on this occasion is a selection of new work made of neon, which the artist has continued to produce himself over many years throughout his practice, as well as his latest “Mirror Site” series comprised of mirrored surfaces.
Takashi Kunitani was born in Kyoto in 1974. He graduated from Seian Univeristy of Art and Design in 1997, and currently lives and works in Kyoto. Producing work that takes on various forms from two-dimensional and three-dimensional pieces to installations, he has presented in various exhibitions in Kyoto, Osaka, and Hyogo among other locations, and in recent years has also been holding a succession of exhibitions at Ulterior Gallery in New York.
There are various materials that Kunitani incorporates into his works. In addition to the neon lights and mirror surfaces seen in the works introduced on this occasion, he employs familiar objects such as hourglasses, stones, balloons, bird feathers, and mosquito coils. Kunitani himself states, “I am interested in thinking about the relationship between human beings and space, questioning the nature of the world and all the things that surround us, and further contemplating how people engage with them.” Kunitani at times incorporates/converts these familiar materials into two-dimensional or three-dimensional works, presenting them so as to reach out to the physical sensations of the viewer beyond the materiality of the material when the viewer encounters the work within the space.
This could be described as a highly sculptural approach. Art critic Shinichiro Ozaki critiques Kunitani’s neon tube works as follows: ”The surface of Kunitani’s luminous glass tubes, vertically standing cylinders with delicately impressed unevenness, made me think of Newman as well as Giacometti’s sculpture. Giacometti is an artist who was interested more in the space and distance where a model has been placed than just the model herself in front of the artist. It is interesting to note that beyond the forms of painting or sculpture, the works of Kunitani, Newman and Giacometti, all emphasize the
verticality. Kunitani’s works have the formalistic completeness but they also make us strongly aware that our lives are carried out at a specific site, on limited time and place, that is, “we know we’re here.” (Shinichiro Ozaki, ‘Recent Works of Takashi Kunitani’, Today’s Artist 48, Takashi Kunitani: The Vertical Horizon, exhibition catalogue, Osaka Contemporary Art Center, 2007)
The neon works made by Kunitani, who had mastered his techniques while working at a neon studio over many years, are comprised of a succession of blown glass forms. The faint light emitted by the gas filling their inside appears to convey Kunitani’s own breathing, and thus the works can be regarded as firmly retaining the physicality of the artist while drifting back and forth between the realms of the visible and invisible.
Although the world currently enjoys the overwhelming benefits of ICT, it also finds itself in the midst of major changes due to the coronavirus pandemic and rapid movements in the political situation in times prior. Now it is more than ever necessary to look towards the future while reflecting upon the past. The exhibition title “Aura,” as well as the words “before and after” that are engraved on the neon tube (a work abstracted to become a material mass by being laid down and presented to the viewer), seem to ask important questions as to how each one of us confronts and engages with the times in this current situation.