Susumu Koshimizu (b. 1944, Uwajima City, Ehime Prefecture, Japan) studied in the sculpture department at Tama Art University, Tokyo, Japan from 1966 to 1971. At the end of the 1960s, he became associated with a loose group of artists who collectively came to be known as Mono-ha (“school of things”). Their work consisted primarily of sculptures and installations that incorporated raw natural and industrial materials in simple, ephemeral arrangements. From early on, Koshimizu’s investigation of material, surface, and space resulted in some of Mono-ha’s most memorable artworks. In Paper (1969, formerly Paper 2), he placed a large stone inside a larger envelope of Japanese paper, open on one side. Viewers were confronted with the sheer size and solidity of the stone in contrast to the thin membrane of paper that covered it. For Crack the Stone in August ’70, Koshimizu hammered at an immense block of granite until it split in two, revealing the interior surface of its enormous mass. Koshimizu has expert knowledge of carving, joinery, and the qualities of wood; he has made sculptures out of pine, cedar, cherry, birch, cypress, hemlock, paulownia, oak, maple, chestnut, and zelkova. At the Paris Youth Biennale in 1971, he exhibited From Surface to Surface (Wooden Logs Placed in a Radial Pattern on the Ground) (1971), a circular arrangement of thirty pine beams sliced at varying intervals and angles. From thereon he developed his Working Table series, the surfaces of which are variously incised with pools of water or supplemented with stacks of branches and elongated protrusions reminiscent of horns or ribs. Koshimizu currently lives and works in Kyoto and Osaka, Japan.
Koshimizu’s work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions in Japan, including at the Kyoto City University of Arts, Kyoto (2010); Kuma Museum of Art, Ehime (2005); Ehime Prefectural Museum of Art, Ehime (1992); and Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu (1992). His work has been featured in many landmark surveys: Reconsidering Mono-ha, National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan (2005); Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis, Tate Modern, London, UK (2001); Japanese Art after 1945: Scream Against the Sky, Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama, Japan, traveled to Guggenheim Museum SoHo, New York, NY and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA (1994); the São Paulo Biennale, São Paulo, Brazil (1983); and the legendary Tokyo Biennale ‘70: Between Man and Matter, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan (1970). Recognition in the United States began with his inclusion in Requiem for the Sun: The Art of Mono-ha, curated by Mika Yoshitake and held at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA in 2012. This large-scale survey was the first overview of the movement in North America. Blum & Poe subsequently presented Koshimizu’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles in 2013. Since then his work has been featured in Collection: The Aesthetics of Contemporary Japan, National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan (2020); DECODE: Events & Materials — The Work of Art in the Age of Post-industrial Society, Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, Japan (2019); Minimalism: Space Light Object, National Gallery, Singapore (2018); Other Primary Structures, Jewish Museum, New York, NY (2014); Prima Materia, Punta della Dogana, Venice, Italy (2013); and Parallel Views: Italian and Japanese Art from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, The Warehouse, Dallas, TX (2013). His work is represented in numerous institutional collections, including Art Tower Mito, Mito, Japan; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; Fundación Rafael del Pino, Madrid, Spain; Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Kobe, Japan; Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, Germany; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan; National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan; Takamatsu City Museum of Art, Takamatsu, Japan; and Tate Modern, London, UK, among others.
Mono-ha: School of Things
Requiem for the Sun: The Art of Mono-ha