Japanese artist Tetsumi Kudo (1935-1990) was a radical and visionary outsider. Almost forgotten until recently, Kudo is being rediscovered internationally due to his foreboding depictions of an ailing world and the emergence of a "new ecology".
This exhibition’s laboratory of remarkable cultivation environments allows us to study Kudo’s radiantly coloured and grotesque propositions for the cultivation of life in a world, where humans, technology and polluted nature have merged.
By combining found materials and modelled elements into peculiar sculptures, Kudo conspicuously anticipated many of the aesthetic trends we see in contemporary art as well as the present-day penchant for the surreal and grotesque. His works also appear strikingly relevant in the cultural and political agendas of today when it comes to e.g. environment and procreation.
Kudo’s work is affected by a childhood in Japan in the aftermath of the atomic bomb. His approach to humanity’s self-destruction and ecological decadence however is both unsentimental and even quite humorous in its dealing with how new life can develop in spite of everything.
ON THE RISE
While Kudo’s work will be new to many, the Louisiana Collection features two of the artist’s peculiar and distinctive sculptures. These spatial assemblages form the starting point for a focused exhibition of works from the artist’s production in the 1960s-1970s, in which he formulates and visualizes a ‘new ecology’ as a point of departure for our existence.
Cultivation, as this exhibition has been called, presents a selection of Kudo's distinct and special works: small hothouses that take the form of a kind of dystopian terraria with blacklights, fluorescent colours and judicious cultivation experiments. Domes, buckets and ‘experimental gardens’ with growth experiments involving plants and isolated limbs, as well as a number of cages where fragments of nature and human bodies are kept like experimental animals or pets.
BETWEEN EAST AND WEST
Tetsumi Kudo was a formative part of the dynamic Japanese avant-garde scene and “anti-art” currents in Tokyo at the end of the 1950s. In 1962 he settled in Paris, where he had his base for more than 20 years.
Kudo’s interest in the ‘natural’ metamorphoses and transformations amidst which we constantly find ourselves is not only about changing relations between nature and mankind; it also has a political angle to do with power and value hierarchies between East and West.