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As told for the occaison of Tatsuo Kawaguchi at Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles, March 14 - June 26, 2020


Maquette for "Tatsuo Kawaguchi"

Maquette for Tatsuo Kawaguchi at Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles, March 14 - June 26, 2020

Thanks to the cooperation of Kayne Griffin Corcoran, the preparation of my exhibition was soundly finished and ready for its opening at March 14.  I devoted myself for this show, tidying up the works and shipping them to Los Angeles with the considerable effort of Shigeru Yokota Gallery. My wife and I booked our flight and were looking forward to coming to the opening. However, the fear of the global spreading of the novel coronavirus prevented the public opening for the exhibition. Nothing like this has ever happened within fifty-nine years of my artistic activities. 

If the act of “seeing” is the essential condition for art, we are confronted by the unfairness of being deprived of “seeing” the works. We confront the worst situation that we are unable to see the works in person. Nevertheless, it is the fact that the “Tatsuo Kawaguchi” show solemnly exists somewhere in Los Angeles’ time and space. I was moved by the gallery’s desire to convey my statement under this adverse circumstance, instead of discontinuing the show. I thought I had to use my own words to respond to this desire and to my works that lost viewers. So I would like to discuss my art and works specially coordinated for this solo exhibition

"Tatsuo Kawaguchi" at Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles, 2020

Installation view of Tatsuo Kawaguchi at Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles, March 14 - June 26, 2020

Tatsuo Kawaguchi, Relation-Quality (blue 84-9), 1984

Tatsuo Kawaguchi
Relation-Quality (blue 84-9), 1984
Cotton cloth, copper plate, solution and wooden panel
70 7/8 x 39 3/8  x 5/8 inches
180.0 x 100 x 1.5 centimeters

For me, art is “adventure of spirit.” The viewers who come to participate in the adventure of seeing my works. (So the absence of viewers for this show is a heavy blow for me.)

I think the world consists of the “visible” and “invisible” as a whole. Furthermore, the relationship (or irrelevance) between the “visible” and “invisible” leads us to the notions of “visibility” and “invisibility.” I reveal the “invisible” through the expression of “visible.” When “invisible” becomes art, it comes into view as something “spiritual.” The “invisible” can agitate not only visibility, but also the five senses and even the heart and brain. As our spirits exists, the “invisible” exists, and the deed of art is to make viewers to witness the“invisible.” Something “spiritual” about the “invisible” within the works in this show are time and relation.

The series Relation-Quality (1976~) are the keynotes making a tranquil flow in the gallery space, and two ripples for the flow are created by Hanging Stone (1974) installed on the ceiling and Relation-Square (1978) placed on the floor. I carefully orchestrated the works displayed in the gallery to make the whole gallery space an installation. The “invisible” of Relation-Quality is time; that of Hanging Stone is gravity; and that of Relation-Square is a square surrounded by the lead parts.

Let me explain more details about the works. The foundation of Relation-Quality, the materials such as copper, iron, and wood, are covered with cloth. The notion of invisibility comes into play by this coverage. The liquid painted on the copper, iron, and wood appears as patina, rust, and lye onto the surface of cloth as time passes. The cloth covering the foundation absorbs the patina, rust, and lye. The relationship between material quality of foundation and time shows us the world and time of creation.


"In my body as an artist, there is a thing in which 'seeing' is not taken away. It is the otherness of the self. Otherness is a spectator of the work, sometimes a tough critic, at an exquisite distance, and close to him. Whatever external factors arise from this otherness, 'seeing' cannot of course take anything away."


Tatsuo Kawaguchi
Relation - Square, 1978
86.61 x 86.61 x .87 inches
220 x 220 x 2.2 centimeters

Hanging Stone consists of two parts of a single stone divided by the hole. I made a hole in the middle part of an unearthed stone, and passed a rope through the hole in order to suspend the stone from the ceiling. Nevertheless, the lower part of the stone has to be touching the floor. It is a single stone, but the upper part of the stone is pulled by the lifting force of the rope as opposed to the lower part of the stone that is pulled down by the force of gravity. Thus, I attempt to reveal the force working in opposition of the stone itself. The work indicates the relationship between invisible gravity and visible material.

Relation-Square composes of a square with tightly conjoined small lead parts, and the relationship among each part is the key to create the shape of the square. At the same time, the work is an expression of relationship between the place and position of the work, because the work marks a square shape on the specific place of the gallery floor. The interior space created by the lead parts is also a part of whole work.

For the show as a whole I intended to create the world of unknown relationships among each work. I believe what makes the show meaningful is that it physically exists behind closed door in spite of the inevitable external factor. I would like to express my deepest gratitude for the people who have strived to keep the show going.

Tatsuo Kawaguchi in his studio

Tatsuo Kawaguchi in his studio