Opening Reception: Thursday, June 6, 6–8pm
Blum & Poe is very pleased to present a solo exhibition of Kōji Enokura (1942–1995), one of the key figures of Mono-ha, a group of Tokyo-based artists who radically redefined Japanese art during the late 1960s and early 1970s. This is Enokura’s first solo exhibition with the gallery and his first solo presentation in North America.
The Mono-ha artists explored the encounter between natural and industrial materials. Often laid directly on the floor or ground, these ephemeral arrangements emphasized not only their respective material qualities but also the interdependent relationships generated by specific placements within a space. At times discreet and at times physically commanding, Enokura’s work is emblematic of this approach. From the beginning of the 1970s, he stained paper, cloth, felt, and leather with oil and grease. He also discolored the floors and walls of galleries and outdoor spaces. Through interventions such as these, he sought to affirm his own place in the world. In his writings he stated, “It is the tension between the body and the material that interests me, and that’s what I want to explore. It attests to the consciousness I have of my own existence.”
This exhibition features photographic documentation of his early installations, as well as cotton-fabric works from the 1980s and 1990s in which Enokura continued to explore the act of staining. The artist variously contrasts smooth fields of black paint with unpainted fabric, drenches the entire surface, or uses oil-soaked beams of lumber to mark the fabric—either affixing the beams to the work or leaning them against it. Also included in the exhibition are some of the artist’s signature fabrics hung diagonally on the wall and folding out onto the floor, as well as Intervention No.13 (1988), a particularly rare canvas that bears a paint-splattered glass bottle filled with oil and sand.
Previously, Enokura was featured in the award-winning survey Requiem for the Sun: The Art of Mono-ha, curated by Mika Yoshitake, assistant curator at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, held at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles and Gladstone Gallery, New York in 2012. He will be included in Prima Materia, a large-scale group show scheduled to open May 30, 2013 at the Punta della Dogana, Venice, Italy.
Enokura received an MFA in painting at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1968, and taught there from 1975 until his death in 1995. During his lifetime, he had numerous solo exhibitions at Japanese galleries and museums, including the Saito Memorial Kawaguchi Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Museum of Art, Osaka, in 1994. In 2005, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, held a major retrospective. Enokura’s work has also been included in landmark surveys, such as Re: Quest―Japanese Contemporary Art since the 1970s, Museum of Art, Seoul National University, Korea, 2013; Reconsidering Mono-ha, National Museum of Art, Osaka, 2005; Avanguardie Giapponese degli Anni 70, Galleria Comunale d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, 1992, and Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo, 1993; Venice Biennale, 1978; Biennale of Sydney, 1976; Paris Biennale, 1971; and Tokyo Biennale ’70: Between Man and Matter, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 1970.