Spatial relations: Jiro Takamatsu at Stephen Friedman Gallery

The shadow and light, reality and un-reality of Jiro Takamatsu is explored in a retrospective exhibition at London’s Stephen Friedman Gallery
The shadow and light, reality and un-reality of Jiro Takamatsu is explored in a retrospective exhibition at London’s Stephen Friedman Gallery. Pictured front: Compound No.747, 1976
(Image credit: Mark Blower and Stephen White)

Amidst the all the clamour and fluster of Frieze week, London’s Stephen Friedman Gallery (opens in new tab) opened a quietly wonderful show dedicated to Japanese artist Jiro Takamatsu (opens in new tab).

Takamatsu died in 1998, aged just 62. He had been a key figure in the Japanese art world since the early 1960s when he co-founded the Hi Red Center with Genpei Akasegawa and Natsuyuki Nakanishi. The trio made a name for themselves cleaning the Tokyo streets with toothbrushes, an absurdist dig at the city’s clean up operation in preparation for the 1964 Olympics. Four years later he represented Japan at the Venice Biennale and hooked up with the Mono-ha group who were a little bit op art and a little bit minimalist but not truly either (Takamatsu doesn’t colour between the lines for one thing).

Most of the works at the Friedman show are from the decade between 1973 and 1983, mostly on paper and in pencil, gouache and pastel. Explorations of form, colour and spatial relations, they have a sketchy energy and internal tension. Also included are a series of sculptures and maquettes in iron and wood, of similar intent.

The exhibition also gives over a second gallery entirely to one of Takamatsu’s shadow paintings, set against the furniture and design objects of Shiro Kuramata, including his 'Glass Chair' and 'Cabinet de Curiositè'. Almost exact contemporaries, the pair collaborated on the Cazador Supper Club in Tokyo in 1967 and the room tries to capture something of that space, sadly long gone. 

Takamatsu died in 1998, aged just 62

Takamatsu died in 1998, aged just 62; he had been a key figure in the Japanese art world since the early 1960s. Pictured: 'Jiro Takamatsu' (installation view)

(Image credit: Mark Blower and Stephen White)

He mastered many mediums, including drawing, painting, photography and sculpture

He mastered many mediums, including drawing, painting, photography and sculpture – all of which are represented in this eclectic show. Pictured: 'Jiro Takamatsu' (installation view)

(Image credit: Mark Blower and Stephen White)

Although each series is distinct in theme, they are all imbued with a sketchy energy and internal tension

Although each series is distinct in theme, they are all imbued with a sketchy energy and internal tension. Pictured: Frame, 1982

(Image credit: Mark Blower and Stephen White)

Pictured left: Frame, 1982. Right: Space No.975, 1981

Takamatsu also worked with pastel and gauche, exploring routes of enquiry into colour, line, space and form. Pictured left: Frame, 1982. Right: Space No.975, 1981

(Image credit: Mark Blower and Stephen White)

Simple, starkly coloured images belying a highly conceptual undercurrent

Simple, starkly coloured images belying a highly conceptual undercurrent

(Image credit: Mark Blower and Stephen White)

Takamatsu’s practice touched upon various movements, including arte povera, post-minimalism and the Japanese Mona-ha group

Takamatsu's practice touched upon various movements, including arte povera, post-minimalism and the Japanese Mona-ha group

(Image credit: Mark Blower and Stephen White)

Natural materials appear torn and reconstituted in the vibrant, minimalist Line and Surface, 1983 (foreground)

Natural materials appear torn and reconstituted in the vibrant, minimalist Line and Surface, 1983 (foreground)

(Image credit: Mark Blower and Stephen White)

Three Shadows of a Man, 1997

The exhibition also gives over a second gallery to one of Takamatsu’s shadow paintings. Pictured back: Three Shadows of a Man, 1997

(Image credit: Mark Blower and Stephen White)

This is set against the furniture and design objects of Shiro Kuramata

This is set against the furniture and design objects of Shiro Kuramata, including his 'Glass Chair' and 'Cabinet de Curiositè' (designed 1989, pictured). Pictured: 'Jiro Takamatsu / Shiro Kuramata' (installation view)

(Image credit: Mark Blower and Stephen White)

Information

’Jiro Takamatsu’ is on view until 14 November

Photography: Mark Blower and Stephen White. Courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery, London

Address 

Stephen Friedman Gallery
Gallery One
25-28 Old Burlington Street
London, W1S 3AN
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