Exhibitions

Keiji Uematsu’s Invisible Force

Image: Vertical Position, 1973 © Keiji Uematsu, courtesy Simon Lee gallery

A solo exhibition of new and historical works by Japanese conceptual photographer Keiji Uematsu, his first ever in the United Kingdom, is about to go on show in London.

Spanning over 45 years, Japanese artist Uematsu’s body of work “makes invisible relationships between objects and the spaces they inhabit visible.”

“The ideas of ‘de-familiarising’ space and focusing our attention on the natural forces of gravity, tension, and material attraction, through photography,” Simon Lee gallery said in a statement.

A graduate from the department of Fine Arts, Kobe University in 1969, Uematsu fell in with new group of artists who would later name themselves ‘Mona-ha.’

Mona-ha proposed a radical conceptual practice which moved away from traditional forms of representation toward an engagement with materials, objects and their properties. It was in this creative context that Uematsu developed his artistic language.

In 1975, he moved from his native Japan to Dusseldorf, where he learnt from peers such as Bernd Becher, who was teaching at the city’s celebrated Kunstakademie, and his wife Hilla.

There, Uematsu was encouraged to submit a proposal for the 1977 edition of Documenta. The following year he was the first Japanese artist ever to show at Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

Documenta 6’s project drawing shows two timber beams held in tension across the width of a room, their alignment offset, the means of their lateral support evident. He wanted, he said: “To create a work in which the lack of a single element will cause the entire structure, the invisible existences of things and their relationships, to collapse like a cosmos.”

This investigation of “invisible force” gives this exhibition its title.

The show includes a series of seven photographs documenting a performance Uematsu made for his 1978 performance at the Performance Art Festival in Brussels. The performance consisted of the artist swinging a light bulb on its cord to describe a circle with his body framed at the centre.

Using light to effectively draw in space, Uematsu creates an ephemeral form that appears solid for one brief moment, with the artist and object ‘becoming’ together. It is exhibited here, photographically, for the first time.

Keiji Uematsu: Invisible Force is on show at Simon Lee gallery, London, from 8 April to 6 May 2016. For more information, go here.