Kayne Griffin Corcoran is pleased to present the first solo exhibition in Los Angeles and with the gallery by Noboru Takayama. For his exhibition, the artist will construct two monumental sculptures from his signature material, railroad ties. The sculptures will be both indoors and within the gallery’s outdoor courtyard space.
Noboru Takayama creates works from substances of organic material including old and worn-out railway sleepers, iron, and wax. The single recurrent medium in Takayama’s practice is the railroad tie, which he has used since 1968. Takayama speaks of the railroad tie as being reminiscent of the laying of railroads during Japan’s invasion across Asia and in the nation’s drive towards modernization. On a trip to Hokkaido in his early twenties, Takayama discovered the potential of the ties during his encounter with the railroads that had been laid for the coalmines there. He became overwhelmed with the experience of memories of the severe labor and human sacrifices associated with the invasions. Takayama relates these ties to “human pillars” similar in size and weight and the requiems of Japanese modernization.
For his first solo exhibition at Tsubaki Kindai Gallery in 1969, he propped three railroad ties against a gallery wall alongside additional ties stacked on the floor, exploring tensions between the supports. In early December 1970, Enokura Kōji, Habu Makoto, Fujii Hiroshi and Noboru Takayama organized, Space Totsuka, an experimental outdoor group exhibition. All took part in plowing and digging the land, installing their works in relation to the ground site. The conflation of death and landscape was reflected in Takayama’s titles, Drama Underground Zoo referring to the underground world where the dead rest.
An important factor of the materiality of the railroad tie is that while the ties are made from wood, they are treated with preservatives to keep them alive. This means while they are no longer living, they are also not being killed. That irony is valuable to the artist. He often uses the word “requiem’, the root of the word meaning “rest”. If a railroad tie is a corpse that is made to live, a death without end, it cannot truly be at rest. Even if we the living wish for rest for the deceased, that “rest” is always disturbed by the living who are afflicted by the memories of the dead never to be consoled.
Takayama is adamant that his work is not about “objects”, but “matters” that concern him. The work constructs a space that closely connects the object to memory. Takayama is often considered to be an artist belonging to the Mono-ha due to railroad ties being his material. However, opposed to Mono-ha artists whom had presented the space or circumstance in which an ‘object’ exists through the displaying of untreated ‘objects,’ Takayama had created works that focused on a specific material and the relationship between the history and memory that is engraved within it.
Noboru Takayama was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1944. He graduated with a BFA and MFA from Tokyo University of the Arts before continuing to teach at the Miyagi University of Education, Sendai and the Tokyo University of the Arts, where he is a specially appointed Professor today.
Takayama has exhibited profusely. Group exhibitions have included Japanorama: New Vision on Art Since 1970 at Pompidou Center in Metz; FIVE DECADES, Sculpture and Works on Paper: Koji Enokura, Noriyuki Haraguchi, Tatsuo Kawaguchi, Noboru Takayama at Simon Lee Gallery in London, and Requiem for the Sun: The Art of Mona-ha, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles (2012). In addition, the artist has participated in exhibitions at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea (2009); Palazzo Vendramin Calergi, Venice (1995); and Musee d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris (1973). He has also enjoyed solo shows at numerous important space, including: Tokyo Publishing House, Tokyo, Japan (2014); SARP, Sendai, Japan (2014); The University Art Museum, Tokyo University of Arts, Tokyo, Japan (2011); Akiyama Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (2007 and 2008).
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