PARERGON: JAPANESE ART OF THE 1980s AND 1990s
This catalogue was published alongside the two-part exhibition Parergon: Japanese Art of the 1980s and 1990s curated by Mika Yoshitake, on view at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles February-May 2019, and includes texts by Yoshitake and David Novak, award-winning author of Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation (Duke University Press Books, 2013).
Parergon: Japanese Art of the 1980s and 1990s presents the work of over twenty-five visual artists in an array of media spanning painting, sculpture, duration performance, noise, video, and photography. The exhibition title makes reference to the gallery in Tokyo (Gallery Parergon, 1981-1986) that introduced many artists associated with the New Wave phenomenon, its name attributed to Jacques Derrida’s essay from 1979 which questioned the “framework” of art, influential to artists and critics during the period. Parergon brings together some of the most enigmatic works that were first generated during a rich two-decade period that are pivotal to the way we perceive and understand contemporary Japanese art today. In the aftermath of the conceptual reconsideration of the object and relationality spearheaded by Mono-ha in the 1970s, this era opened up new critical engagements with language and medium where artists explored expansions in installation, performance, and experimental multi-genre practices.
When the U.S. and Europe were witnessing a return to Expressionism alongside a postmodern aesthetic of simulacra and deconstruction characterized by the Pictures generation, this zeitgeist of cultural capitalism was instead manifest under Japan’s unique social and geo-political conditions resulting from the rise and burst of the bubble economy. Artists began to explore subversive artistic languages and integrate underground subcultures into their practice using a variety of media, ranging from experimentations in electro-acoustic music, geopolitical and conceptual photography, and appropriations of advertisement culture. Others addressed the internalization of historical avant-garde and modernist aesthetics that were filtered through a new poetics of form, space, and language.
In the post-1989 Hirohito era, politics of gender, nuclear crisis, and critique of nationalism are especially poignant among artists from the Kansai region. This period also witnesses the rise of art collectives in the mid-90s and their darkly humorous performances and conceptual practices that reevaluated the history of Japan’s postwar avant-garde. These events reflect on a subculture generated out of a profoundly unique “infantile capitalism,” anticipating the explosive rise of the Neo-Pop generation.
View the exhibition here:
Softcover, 256 pages
Los Angeles: Blum & Poe; Milan: Skira Editore, 2020
9.5 x 12 inches
Weight: 2 lbs