Atsushi Saga + Kazuma Koike + Didier Courbot "Casino Royale"
This event has ended.
Ordinary art enthusiasts, as opposed to art critics or curators, often advocate either enjoying an art piece just as it is or, alternatively, say that you need to try to understand the artist's ideas that lie behind it. The works of these relatively new artists, Atsushi Saga, Kazuma Koike, and Didier Courbot, approach the viewer with very different textures and qualities, and at first glance, the contrast between the techniques used and their outward appearances seem to lead to interpreting them as going in completely different directions. Interestingly enough, however, when you turn your focus to what the artists are saying, you sense that these seemingly unrelated works came into being through a common creative process. They are each very personal narratives acquired by the artist while going through the process of physical and mental development.
Atsushi Saga's painted surfaces have such a perfect finish that they could be mistaken for manufactured products. Their sheen enables the viewer to see his or her own reflection. Although the attempts of the viewer's conscious mind to breach the work are initially rebuffed, gradually confronting the piece over time eventually draws the viewer behind the surface of the stronghold, giving glimpses of the stories that lie within. The approach of Kazuma Koike, who spent his early childhood in Latin America and Spain, draws a more direct connection to the story world. His two-dimensional works and sculptures are imbued with an almost mythological world view, brimming with the sort of feeling that emanates from ancient characters, arousing an excitement like that produced by descending a dark staircase into an underground world to discover hidden relics. Unlike Saga's works, those of Didier Courbot invite the viewer to share the artist's world view. Although Courbot often uses very direct media like photography, his works do not take form until the viewer focuses his mind on becoming immersed within them.
Despite coming from different generations and backgrounds, these three artists give the impression that they somehow managed to hold onto a certain boyish sense when making the transition to adulthood and being professional artists.
[Image: Didier Courbot "Rain Collector" 2007, 50x40cm]
If an exhibition devoid of any real value whatsoever is your cup of tea then look no further.
The current works at SCAI are compelling proof of the massive gap between artists producing work of quality and a cynical cash-driven art market.
As a brief disclaimer, it may be worth mentioning that I am no stranger to the notion of object-as-art, or artists whose work is sourced from a reframing of the everyday. Many artists have done so in inspiring, thought-provoking and humorous ways. One has to look no further than the complex installations or food sculptures of Fischli and Weiss, or the exquisite works of Tim Noble and Sue Webster for evidence that the "everyday" can be presented in original and surprising ways.
However 2 of the 3 artists in this sad excuse of an exhibition do no such thing.
Admittedly, on a purely technical level Atsushi Saga does a nice job of polishing his pure black paint surfaces to a mirrorlike finish, but the result is essentially identical to (and of no more interest than) my bathroom tiles. Except that these tiles are selling for the ridiculous price of 600,000 yen apiece. Or 3 identical (but smaller) ones for over a million. No joke, unless you're the gallery owners accepting "investors'" cash and laughing all the way to the bank.
They should be ashamed of themselves.
Didier Courbot's completely pointless and roughly thrown-together "sculptures" hit rock-bottom in an overwhelming lack of merit. Their vacuousness seems matched only by that of the art-buyers prepared to be suckered-in by SCAI's vile promotion of such "art" as worthwhile. That the curators have the gall to market a 5 minute handheld close-up video of the artist's hand holding (among other things) a piece of torn-up paper and a small fragment of wood for over 600,000 yen is repulsive to say the least.
It's all here. A hastily constructed arrangement of a few bits of roughly cut plywood, a bare light bulb hanging from some metal rods, a photo of a plastic cup.
Profound or thought-provoking? No.
High craftsmanship? No.
Aesthetically interesting? No.
Original? Groundbreaking? No.
Within a short time, all this work will no doubt be consigned to the rubbish bin of art history.
If the cynical marketing and obscene overpricing of vacuous "artworks" were a crime, the curators of SCAI would be serving life imprisonment.