Kishio Suga at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles
By: Eli Diner
On the heels of last spring’s “Requiem for the Sun,” the excellent survey of Mono-ha, Blum & Poe has once again teamed up with curator Mika Yoshitake for a retrospective of a key participant in the loose-knit group, Kishio Suga. The Mono-ha artists, who in the late 1960s and early ’70s created installations out of industrial and natural materials, can be easily situated against the backdrop of Japan’s postwar economic miracle and the upheavals of the student movement, and affinities with Arte Povera and process art allow their work to be folded into an international post-Minimal turn. Some of the joys (and challenges) of this show depend on loosening these identifications and tracking Suga’s career over fifty years––his reconfigurations of early problematics of subject, object, and context as well as his abiding interest in works of art as instances of the material totality of the world.
The upstairs gallery features relatively recent works, including thirty wall-mounted assemblages, mostly from the 1990s and 2000s, that call to mind Richard Tuttle. Intimate and playful, these works done in wood, paint, wire, rope, and metal dangle, jut, and spring outside of their often exaggerated or fragmented frames.
Larger scale installations fill the main floor. These works from the ’70s and ’80s incorporate stone, rope, plastic, metal, wood, and concrete in arrangements that are simultaneously arbitrary and precise. In Shachi Jokyo (Left-Behind Situation), 1972/2012, a web of metal wire spans the entirety of a room, balancing small pieces of wood of various shapes and colors. The physical tenuousness of these installations mirrors the fragile theoretical apparatus developed by Suga and his Mono-ha colleagues: to empty objects of ideas—the artist’s and the viewer’s—fostering a pure existence of objects in space.