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4th Kochi-Muziris Biennale: Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life Ocula Report 4th Kochi-Muziris Biennale: Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life 15 Feb 2019 : Natalie King for Ocula

'Poems are like sentences that have taken their clothes off.' Marlene Dumas' poetic and sensual refrain accompanies her figurative watercolours on view in Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life, the fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) in the southern state of Kerala, India (12 December 2018–29 March 2019).Dumas' new series...

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Ellen Altfest Ocula Conversation Ellen Altfest

The paintings of Ellen Altfest are ethereal in their detail. Fields of minutiae come together as pulsating images; small brushstrokes of oil paint accumulate over a series of months to single out seemingly innocuous subjects, such as a hand resting atop patterned fabric (The Hand, 2011) or a deep green cactus reaching upwards from beneath a bed of...

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Colomboscope 2019: Cross Currents and Dissonance Ocula Report Colomboscope 2019: Cross Currents and Dissonance 8 Feb 2019 : Nada Raza for Ocula

On the rooftop of the former Rio Hotel complex in Colombo, it was hard to ignore the high-rise buildings, still under construction, blocking all but a sliver of what used to be an open view over Slave Island, once an island on Beira Lake that housed slaves in the 19th century, and now a downtown suburb. The hotel was set alight during the...

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On Kawara

(1932 - 2014), Japan

Japanese-born artist On Kawara is best known through his association with the beginnings of American Conceptual art. Born in 1932, Kawara was 12 years old when the atomic bombs fell on Japan. In his youth, he travelled widely before setting roots in New York. He died in 2014.

Kawara's best-known series is his 'Today' series (1966-2013). The paintings of his 'Today' series are more commonly known as his date paintings. The works of the series are horizontal acrylic paintings that record the date they were made in white on a monochromatic background. Nearly 3000 paintings were made over the life of the series, with the first dating back to 4 January 1966. Each painting was completed in one day. If it was not finished by the end of the day, it was destroyed.

In the 'Today' series there were eight options of size for each painting—between 8 x 10 inches and 61 x 89 inches—and three options of hand-mixed (and therefore liable to variation) colour: grey, red or blue. The structure and language of dating would change based on what city Kawara was in that day. Depending on which scale Kawara chose to work with, the painting could take between four and seven hours to finish. For Kawara it was a chance to focus on the act of painting. Subtle differences in each canvas reveal the unique state of mind and emotion with which each painting was produced. Due to the method in which the paintings had to be stored in Kawara's small studio, Kawara created an accompanying box for each work. These boxes included newspaper clippings from the day the painting was made. Simultaneously factual and diary-like, Kawara's date paintings act as both simple reports regarding the day the painting was made and deeply site- and time-specific expressions of mood.

A frequent traveller, Kawara would often send postcards to people he knew (the 'I Got Up' series). The number of postcards eventually added up to more than 1 500. On each postcard was a rubber stamping that indicated what time he had woken up that day. Kawara also sent more than 900 telegrams to acquaintances (the 'I Am Still Alive' series). The telegrams consistently and solely bore the words 'I am still alive.' Such statements are not only an affirmation of life (reassuring messages from someone who is travelling in a pre-cellphone age) and a peek into Kawara's mundane intricacies, they are also an insight—like the paintings—into the depth of meaning available in a single reportorial statement. The odd and unexpected intimacy of such statements should not be overlooked.

Between 1970 and 1971 Kawara typed a list of the previous million years of the world, starting from 1969 and going back to 998 031 BC. In 1998, he typed a list of the next million years, starting from 1999 and going all the way forward to 1 001 998 AD. In Kawara's retrospective, On Kawara—Silence, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (6 February-3 May 2015), volunteers (two at a time in one-hour shifts; one male and one female; one reading into the past and one into the future; alternating reading dates) recited each list. In these lists, the question of what it means to record time, or perhaps the absurdity of recorded time, is annunciated, and the fleeting nature of our current moment in the face of time's winds is labouriously articulated.

Casey Carsel | Ocula | 2017
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Featured Artworks

I READ by On Kawara contemporary artwork On KawaraI READ, 2017 Set of six volumes bound in Brillianta Linen, total of 3,272 pages printed on 130 g Lessobo Design 1.3 Natural paper and accompanied with natural wooden box
Krakow Witkin Gallery
One Million Years Past - For all those who lived and died Future - For the last one by On Kawara contemporary artwork On KawaraOne Million Years Past - For all those who lived and died Future - For the last one, 1999 Two volumes printed on Bible Veritable Ivory Paper 32 g with covers in black leather over 400 g cardboard with silver and gold embossing on the front and spine
14 x 10.5 cm
Krakow Witkin Gallery
I MET by On Kawara contemporary artwork On KawaraI MET, 2004 12 volumes in grey wooden slipcase consisting of postcards recording the date, name and the address of both recipient and artist during May 10, 1968 and September 17, 1979
Krakow Witkin Gallery
I WENT by On Kawara contemporary artwork On KawaraI WENT, 2007 12 volumes in a Sycamore slipcase consisting of the artist's daily trips using a red line on a map during a twelve-year period from June 1, 1968 to September 17, 1979
Krakow Witkin Gallery
I GOT UP by On Kawara contemporary artwork On KawaraI GOT UP, 2008 12 volumes in grey wooden slipcase consisting of postcards recording the date, name and the address of both recipient and artist during May 10, 1968 and September 17, 1979
Krakow Witkin Gallery

Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, On Kawara, On Kawara at Krakow Witkin Gallery, Boston
Closed
17 November–22 December 2018 On Kawara On Kawara Krakow Witkin Gallery, Boston

Represented By

In Related Press

'Time, Light, Japan': Japanese art from the 1990s to now at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Related Press 'Time, Light, Japan': Japanese art from the 1990s to now at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Art Radar Journal : 4 April 2017

From 17 December 2016 to 30 April 2017 the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney presents Time, light, Japan: Japanese art 1990s to now. The exhibition explores time and light through video, photography, sound and installation from the 1990s to now. Drawing from the gallery's collection, the exhibition brings together the works of eight Japanese...

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Questionnaire: Candida Höfer Related Press Questionnaire: Candida Höfer Frieze : 17 January 2017

What images keep you company in the space where you work?Susanne Bürner: Tree Still (Sage), Tree Still (Coriander) and Tree Still (Chives) (all 2000). What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you?It was a work by Man Ray that I saw in an exhibition a very, very long time ago: The Lovers (1936).If you could live with only one...

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Of Time, Places and People: 'Time of Others' at the Singapore Art Museum Related Press Of Time, Places and People: 'Time of Others' at the Singapore Art Museum 12 January 2016

Singapore Art Museum’s (SAM) latest exhibition Time of Others, which opened on 21 November 2015, is a curatorial collaboration with three other distinguished museums exhibited in four locations in three countries: the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (MOT), National Museum of Art, Osaka (NMAO) and the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of...

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On Kawara at the Guggenheim Museum, New York Related Press On Kawara at the Guggenheim Museum, New York The New York TImes : 6 February 2015

The seemingly dry, narrow-gauge art of the Conceptual giant On Kawara is profound — profoundly simple, human and deep. And, as proved by that artist’s first full-dress retrospective, “On Kawara — Silence” at the Guggenheim Museum, its quality is most apparent when it is seen in quantity.Mr. Kawara, who was born in...

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