Shusaku Arakawa, Nagoya 1936 - 2010 New York
ProvenanceMilan, Galleria Schwarz.
ExhibitionsMilan, Galleria Schwarz, Arakawa or the power of simbols, 3 - 31 October 1967.
PublicationsG. Ballo, Arakawa or the power of simbols, Milan, 1967, n. 23.
Born in Nagoya in 1936, Shusaku Arakawa was evacuated at the age of seven - at the height of Japan’s entanglement in World War II - with 200 other children to a Buddhist monastery on the mountains, where they had to forage for food. When he finally came back to Nagoya, almost blind and deaf due to malnutrition, he was ‘adopted’ by neighbors - a doctor and his wife - for a sort of therapy patio during the following three years.
Before joining the Musashino Art University in Tokyo, Arakawa was a science student: this discipline paved the way for his researches on the purity of lines and the precision of drawings practice.
The influence of European Modernism was still dominant in Japan at the time, and Arakawa decided to adopt unusual materials thanks to the Western cultural influence: this specific element within Arakawa’s artistic landscape - demonstrated in the artworks showed the annual Yomiuri Independent Exhibition (a major event for postwar Japanese avant-garde art) in 1957 and again in 1958 - made him ‘scandalous’ among his contemporaries. In 1961, Arakawa left Tokyo for New York, where he met the woman who became his partner and muse, the American poet Madeline Gins. In 1963, Arakawa’s use of words and symbols within the collaborative work The Mechanism of Meaning shook up the intellectual mechanism of the visual perception. The first USA solo gallery show of Arakawa - Arakawa: Dieagrams - took place in 1964 at the Dwan Gallery in Los Angeles three years after his arrival in the United States. In 1966 Arakawa married Madeline and they decided to move into 124 Houston Street, the Greenwich Village townhouse where they had the opportunity to express their eclectic talents. During the 1990s, the apotheosis of their ideas and thoughts culminated into the conceptualization of three-dimensional space. The varied shapes and colours of their architectural works invite visitors to discover the unlimited possibilities of the human body while defying sensory perceptions. Featured in many public collections, including those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Musee Georges Pompidou in Paris, Arakawa enjoys broad international recognition and represented Japan at the 35th Venice Biennale (1970), Documenta 4 (1968) and Documenta 6 (1977).