Since his first solo exhibition in 1969, Keiji Uematsu has produced a variety of artworks including videos, photographs and installations in addition to sculptural works using steel, rocks and glass. After moving to Germany in 1975, he continued to actively pursue a range of activities, including staging solo shows in galleries and museums all over Europe. Based on concepts that have remained consistent throughout his career, his work has garnered attention both in Japan and overseas. In 1988 he was chosen to represent Japan at the Venice Biennale, and in 2013 he was awarded the 38th Nakahara Teijiro Prize. He currently maintains studios in Japan and Germany and continues to produce work.
For this exhibition, the artist himself has recreated an installation he presented at Galerie 16 in Kyoto in 1973. To date, Uematsu has produced work that gives visual expression through visible objects to 'invisible things,' including the relationship between the human body and space, the relationship between things, and forces such as gravity and tension. The work recreated here, in which rocks, planks and rope are precisely balanced, demonstrates this ongoing concern of Uematsu's extremely clearly. It can also be seen as an attempt to grasp subjects such as 'structure,' 'relation' and 'existence' that are both universal and metaphysical by way of individual 'objects' that are specific and physical. At the same time, this work that relies on a delicate tension is maintained by balancing the mutual relationship of things amid a durable state of affairs that continues while containing within it the potential to collapse. In this way, Uematsu's sculptural practice, which also incorporates the invisible element of 'time,' remains something extremely original while simultaneously being linked to the circumstances of contemporaneous sculpture. Also worthy of attention is the fact that the equilibrium of this work relies on making the most of and bringing out the individual characteristics of the rocks, planks and ropes, each of which has a different function and nature. The exhibit recreated here at once gives an indication of the thinking that was fundamental to Uematsu's early practice and serves as an example showing the extent to which his work has continued to be based on a consistent concern. At this exhibition we look back on these activities by presenting drawings, photographs and other pieces in addition to this installation.
In this exhibition I attempt to see from past to present to future via the relationship between my very first photographic work using the body, from 1972, and remakes of sculptural pieces, and 'Memories of floating stones' (2019).
'I've always wanted to make the kind of things that, like the cosmos, would collapse if a single element of their overall structure, or the uncertain presence of an object or the relationships between any of these were missing.
I am concerned with what is sustaining the overall relationship, what destroys that relationship and spawns another relationship entirely.' (1992)
Without gravity, we cannot survive. Gravity governs everything, including the universe. In my work, I have endeavoured to create the invisible shape of gravity, in spaces.I believe this approach will become apparent at this exhibition.
Press release courtesy Yumiko Chiba Associates.
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