b. 1944, Japan

Kishio Suga Biography

Kishio Suga is a leading figure of site-specific sculpture in Japan. A member of the Mono-ha movement, Suga interrogates the encounter between natural and industrial materials, and between these materials and their site.

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Early Years

Suga was born in Morioka, the capital city of Iwate Prefecture, Japan. He attended Tama Art University in Tokyo from 1964 to 1968 and studied oil painting. While studying, Suga was influenced by the work of his teachers Yoshishige Saitō and Jiro Takamatsu. Saitō in particular encouraged Suga to challenge the ideas of modernism and Eurocentric art theory.

Kishio Suga Artworks

Kishio Suga's sculptures bridge the transition from post-war avantgarde sculpture and contemporary art in Japan. Often made with raw material, his sculptures leave room to examine the nature of the material and its relationship to site.

Mono-ha Movement

Suga is one of the key figures of the Mono-ha movement, whose name translates to 'School of Things' in Japanese. One of the earliest works in which the artist explored the material focus of what would become Mono-ha was Layered Space (1968), a clear box containing layers of raw material: sawdust, cotton, ash, plastic dust, and soil. This focus on raw material and its properties is relevant to Suga becoming one of the leading artists in the Mono-ha movement, alongside others including Lee Ufan and Nobuo Sekine.

The Mono-ha movement was interested in 'not making'. Its members considered art or representation to be obsolete, and were interested instead in exploring the properties of pre-existing materials. Suga and other Mono-ha artists used non-conventional but readily available materials in their work, such as concrete, wood, plastic, rock, dirt, and negative space.

Suga's Law of Multitudes (1975), for example, consists of a sheet of plastic stretched over dozens of concrete columns, each topped with a large stone. The work engages both with the different material properties of the plastic and concrete but also with the space created above and below the sheet of plastic.

Site-Specificity

Kishio Suga's work is concerned with the relationship between material and site, and is thus often site-specific. In the late 1970s, Suga regularly performed 'Activations', which involved simple sequences of actions such as gathering, stacking, tossing, or folding. He performed such an activation for the work There: At Each Location in 1976, demonstrating how the meaning of a work is not only contingent on site but also on the ways that our bodies interact with the work.

Awards and Accolades

Suga was awarded the 11th Shell Art Prize in 1967 and the Grand Prize at the 5th Japan Art Festival in 1970. In 2016, he was awarded the Mainichi Art Award.

Exhibitions

Kishio Suga's first solo exhibition was Space Transformation (1968) at Tsubaki Kindai Gallery in Tokyo. Since then, his work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions around the world each year. Recent exhibitions include the solo show Kishio Suga: The Existence of "Things" and the Eternity of "Site" (2021) at the Iwate Museum of Art in his hometown of Morioka.

Suga re-created one of his most significant works, Law of Situation (1971) for the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017.

Website

Kishio Suga's website can be found here.

Vida Quivooy | Ocula | 2021

Kishio Suga, As Places (1975). Magic marker and vinyl tape on paper. © Kishio Suga. Photo: Josh Schaedel

Kishio Suga Featured Artworks

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Square Pond G by Kishio Suga contemporary artwork sculpture
Kishio Suga Square Pond G, 1986 Coloured iron
60 x 69 x 7 cm
Kamakura Gallery Contact Gallery
Floating Units of Perception by Kishio Suga contemporary artwork photography
Kishio Suga Floating Units of Perception, 1973 C-print
20 x 28.3 cm
Blum & Poe Contact Gallery
Site of Components by Kishio Suga contemporary artwork painting, sculpture
Kishio Suga Site of Components, 2013 Wood and paint
39 x 35 x 8 cm
Mendes Wood DM Contact Gallery
Progression Toward Extremity by Kishio Suga contemporary artwork sculpture
Kishio Suga Progression Toward Extremity, 2015 Wood, stone and paint
91 x 71 x 8 cm
Mendes Wood DM Contact Gallery
Intersection of Elapsed Factors by Kishio Suga contemporary artwork mixed media
Kishio Suga Intersection of Elapsed Factors, 2017 Wood, paint, branch
72 1/2 x 54 x 6 3/4 inches
Blum & Poe Contact Gallery
Units of Dependency by Kishio Suga contemporary artwork installation
Kishio Suga Units of Dependency, 1974/2017 Concrete blocks, grass
Blum & Poe Contact Gallery
Fieldology by Kishio Suga contemporary artwork installation
Kishio Suga Fieldology, 1974/2015 Rope
Variable dimensions
Blum & Poe Contact Gallery
Multiple Latencies in Formation by Kishio Suga contemporary artwork installation
Kishio Suga Multiple Latencies in Formation, 2014 Wood, wire
Variable dimensions
Blum & Poe Contact Gallery

Kishio Suga Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Kishio Suga Represented By

Blum & Poe contemporary art gallery in Tokyo, Japan Blum & Poe Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo
Mendes Wood DM contemporary art gallery in São Paulo, Brazil Mendes Wood DM Brussels, New York, São Paulo

Kishio Suga In Ocula Magazine

In Ocula Advisory

Kishio Suga In Related Press

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Kishio Suga at Blum & Poe Los Angeles Related Press Kishio Suga at Blum & Poe Los Angeles 24 May 2017, Art in America

Kishio Suga's exhibition offered a careful choreography of sticks leaning against wood panels, ropes wrapped around rocks, fabric strips twisted around curved metal plates, and concrete blocks sandwic

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Precarious Cut-Stone Sculptures Convey a Sense of Delicate Balance Related Press Precarious Cut-Stone Sculptures Convey a Sense of Delicate Balance 2 January 2017, The Creators Project

Like a post-minimal graveyard, Kishio Suga’s cut stones and wood planks lend an existential air to the exhibition space at Dia:Chelsea. The Japanese artist’s first solo museum show in the United State

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Preview: Art Basel Miami Beach 2016 gallery highlights from Asia and Africa Related Press Preview: Art Basel Miami Beach 2016 gallery highlights from Asia and Africa 1 December 2016, Art Radar Journal

From 1 to 4 December 2016 galleries from around the world will converge on Art Basel Miami Beach. In Art Basel’s 15th edition in Miami Beach, there are an impressive 269 galleries expected from 29 countries across North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. The art fair is proven to be a highlight of the art calendar, with almost all...

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Border crossings: a new show pairs the work of Hanne Darboven and Kishio Suga Related Press Border crossings: a new show pairs the work of Hanne Darboven and Kishio Suga 25 November 2016, Wallpaper*

Dia Art Foundation strikes a perfect balance in pairing the late German conceptualist Hanne Darboven with Kishio Suga, founder of Mono-ha (School of Things) and Japan’s foremost sculptor in the latter's first solo museum exhibition in the US. Both are closely aligned to cultural and societal movements that defined the 1960s and 70s, a...

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