SEKINE Nobuo Exhibition - Traveling Man

Jan. 20 [Fri.] ― Feb. 4 [Sat.] 2023 11:00-19:00
Gallery closed Sun., Mon., and national holidays.

*Click images to view in original size

We will present an exhibition of SEKINE Nobuo, a representative artist of the Mono-ha movement that swept Japan in the 1970s. This exhibition will center on early works he made as a student at Tama Art University's Department of Oil Painting.

The "Mineral Series" that Sekine created in his third and fourth years of art school combined the "Eros Series" and the "Buddhist Sculpture Series" that he had worked on previously. As dark as a black lake, with a prominent sadness coming from the forms that fall into it, this series was when Sekine most concentrated on the interior. In 1966 he met Saito Yoshishige, and as he learned the fundamentals of abstract painting, he came to realize the theoretical weakness of his own work. After much searching, he studied the most advanced spatial perception and interpretation of the time, which led him to the spatial perception method of "phase". In 1968, he participated for the first time in an outdoor sculpture exhibition at Suma Rikyu Koen, where he exhibited "Phase - Mother Earth", in which he used a shovel to dig up a large cylindrical hole and piled the same earth back up in a similar cylindrical shape next to the hole. If he were to continue that process indefinitely, the earth would eventually become empty, and the exact same earth would be borne next to it. With what was essentially a large scale thought experiment in topology, Sekine became a huge star.

In 1970, he was selected to represent Japan at the Venice Biennale and he traveled to Europe. At the Biennale, he exhibited "Phase of Nothingness", a natural stone placed atop a stainless steel column, which later became part of the permanent collection (Sekine Corner) at Denmark's Louisiana Museum. Impressed by Italy's cities and architecture that blended art and architecture together, he established the Institute for Environmental Art in 1973 in Japan, where "environmental art" was not yet well known.

This exhibition will be the first in a series on Sekine Nobuo. As the first in a series of Sekine Nobuo exhibitions, this exhibition will trace the transitions of his work with a focus on his rare early oil paintings and include silkscreens, sculptures, posters, and other works.

SEKINE Nobuo (1942~2019)
Nobuo Sekine was born 1942 in Saitama Prefecture. He studied under Saito Yoshishige at the Department of Oil Painting at Tama Art University, graduating in 1968. Past graduation, he participated in the 8th Exhibition of Contemporary Art, the Open Air Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition at Suma Rikyu Park (Kobe), and the 5th Nagaoka Exhibition of Contemporary Art, with some of his works giving rise to controversy. Sekine counts as one of the central members of the Mono-ha movement. He exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1970, and in 1973 founded Environmental Art Studio. In 1978, he exhibited at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Denmark), and a variety of other venues in Europe. Phase: Mother Earth, Sekine’s most well-known work, simply is a cylindrical hole he dug out in Suma Park, with the soil from the hole formed into a cylinder and placed next to it. During its lifetime of merely a couple of weeks, this work made a lasting impression on the minds of the visitors. If he would have continued that work forever, at some point the earth would have been wholly dug up, and there would have been a new earth next to the space where the old one used to be… Phase: Mother Earth, maybe conceived as a thought experiment under the impact of topology, is a work of magnificent scale that established Sekine’s reputation in the art world. He passed away in May, 2019.

Exhibition View