Hauser & Wirth’s normally pristine North Gallery has taken a surprising green turn for its new exhibition of works by the late Japanese artist Tetsumi Kudo (1935-1990).
Mounted in collaboration with Andrea Rosen Gallery, the show sees the London gallery carpeted wall-to-wall in Astroturf. The installation, conceived by Oliver Renaud Clément, transforms the space into a lush green backdrop for Kudo’s neon penis terrariums and grotesque sculptures.
The exhibition focuses on a selection of works created in the 1960s and early 70s, dating from Kudo’s first ten years in Paris. Both Kudo’s dome works – decaying eco systems housed inside mini-Perspex spheres – and his cube series (small boxes containing decaying cocoons and shells) are on show. They’re equal measures eerie and comedic – a reflection on the decomposition of nature, and subsequently humanity.
The highlight of the show is certainly Kudo’s ‘Garden of the Metamorphosis in the Space Capsule’ (1968): a die magnified to over 3.5 sq m, with a small, circular door inviting viewers to clamber into a UV-lit interior. Inside, tall fluorescent flower stems loom over a floor littered with molten cotton skin, penises and silhouettes of body parts.
Kudo’s paintings and installations stem from a fixation with the impact of nuclear disasters and the excess of consumerism fuelled by the post-war economic boom. It’s little wonder why – the Osaka-born artist spent a significant portion of his youth in the town of Okayama, a neighbor of nuclear-devastated Hiroshima. And even in the whimsy of his Technicolor artworks, that somberness is inescapable.