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09/06 - 29/07 2022

Mendes Wood DM is pleased to present the Japanese artist Kishio Suga’s second solo exhibition in Belgium.  

Kishio Suga is a pioneer of site-specific installation, assemblage and performance. Suga was the focus of critical acclaim in the late 1960s and 1970s as a key figure in the movement known as Mono-ha (School of Things), a loose group of artists who made ephemeral installations out of natural and industrial materials. Suga seeks to expose the reality of mono (things/materials) and the jōkyō (situations) in which they are situated and has published numerous influential theoretical essays throughout his career. While continuing to develop new bodies of work during the 1980s, he also remade earlier installations, challenging notions of originality and permanence by adapting their scale and components to the conditions of the space before him. By the late 1990s, he was widely recognized as a major artist in his own right and was the subject of a retrospective that traveled from the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art to several other museums in Japan in 1997 and 1998, followed by a solo exhibition of new work at the Yokohama Museum of Art in 1999. 

This exhibition at Mendes Wood DM focuses on assemblages made between the 1970s and the 1990s, charting the development of Suga’s practice over the crucial first three decades of his career. Like his installations, these small-scale assemblages, variously made of wood, metal, putty, branches, wire, paper, stones, and paint, are precisely deconstructed compositions that reveal the properties inherent to each constituent material. Several wall-mounted works on paper from the 1970s and 1980s are also presented at the gallery in dialogue with Periphery of Space (1980), a floor-based installation of paper and stones. First displayed in Kobe in 1980, Periphery of Space consisted of a ring of twisted brown paper on the floor, with stones placed at precise intervals inside and outside the enclosure, as well as within the twist of the paper itself. Suga remade this work for the first time in his retrospective at Pirelli HangarBicocca in Milan in 2016, where he enlarged it to correspond with the cavernous dimensions of the museum. This third presentation in Brussels will mark a return to a more intimate, domestic scale.  

This current show coincides with the publication of Kishio Suga: Writings, vol. 1, 1969–1979 (Skira Editore, Blum & Poe, and Mendes Wood DM). Edited by Andrew Maerkle, Ashley Rawlings and Sen Uesaki, this is the first of an ambitious three-volume anthology that makes Suga’s thinking accessible to English readers as a comprehensive body of work for the first time. 

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