Aki Kuroda by Mariko Kuroda and Yoyo Maeght - Biography

Biography by Mariko Kuroda and Yoyo Maeght, 2017

1944 -1957 Aki Kuroda was born in Kyoto on October 4, 1944.

His father, professor of economics at the University of Doshisha (Kyoto), stayed in France and Germany during the interwar period. He knows and appreciates European culture. We owe him the creation of two design schools, one of which was devoted to the study of the works of the Bauhaus. He also takes an active part in cinematographic creation (Kyoto is then, in Japan, the city of cinema).

His paternal great-uncle, Jutaro Kuroda, considered the first Japanese cubist, largely contributed to introducing this pictorial movement in Japan.

An only child, Aki was brought up in an atmosphere of freedom. Very open-minded, his family strives to introduce him to different cultures and religions, as well as various ways of thinking.

Aki's father has a large library enriched with a collection of art books dealing with the visual arts in the West. During a stay in Paris, he subscribed to the artistic and literary review Le Minotaure, by Skira and Tériade, the thirteen issues of which were published between June 1933 and May 1939. Breton, Dali, de Chirico, Derain, Duchamp , Éluard, Ernst, Magritte, Man Ray, Masson, Matisse, Miró, Picasso, Reverdy, Tzara and Kurt Weill, among others, collaborated on this review. It is by consulting her that Aki receives his first artistic shock. Aki then does not read French or our alphabet. Only the illustrations are accessible to him.

Aki started painting at the age of three. His father, who himself practiced Western-inspired oil painting, and one of whose favorite subjects was the representation of roses, wanted Aki to have access to all forms of expression, he offers him painting, sculpture and calligraphy materials. At four years old, Aki executed his first oil painting.

Between 1954 and 1958 some paintings by Aki were exhibited in various Salons.


Kyoto is strongly impregnated by the traditions of Zen. The anti-conformist tendency of this religion favors openness to multiple marginal experiences. Kyoto thus becomes one of the places chosen by certain representatives of the “Beat Generation”.

Still a high school student, Aki met James Lee Byars (1932-1997). This will be his first defining friendship. Aki attends the performances of Byars (the American artist silently folds papers, at midnight, in a Zen temple, or else, dressed in a black suit, his forehead girded with a headband, throws gold dust at Round). Beyond somewhat provocative appearances, Byars is in search of the perfect aesthetic moment, which finds particular resonance in Japan.

Aki Kuroda then rejects Japanese culture, associated with war and its disasters. From 1960 to 1965, he also abandoned painting, which he nevertheless practiced viscerally. He organizes happenings. One of them, entitled Rêve de fœtus (1965), depicts actors in the auditorium of Doshisha University who move about inside a huge plastic bag, similar to a cocoon, a stomach or a brain, then tear the bag and throw threads at the spectators who they provoke in various ways.

1965 - 1969

On the initiative of his father's former students, Aki leaves for the West. He stays six months in France, but also in Spain, and six months in the United States.

Officially, he must do research for a university work devoted to Picabia (he is registered in the course of aesthetics at the University of Doshisha, in Kyoto). But during this trip, Aki does not frequent any museum, does not visit any exhibition and does not register in any library. Above all, he seeks to immerse himself in the atmosphere and light of the countries he visits.

After a year of exploration, he returned to Japan, where he completed his university studies.


The opportunity to return to Paris arises when the Japanese sculptor Yasuo Mizui (born in 1925) asks Aki to become his assistant. On February 15, 1970, with Mariko, whom he would marry in May, Aki joined Mizui in Paris. At that time, Mizui was working in stone. Kuroda maintains a difficult and conflicting contact with this hard material that he hardly appreciates. After a year of hard work, he left Mizui's workshop.

For three years, Kuroda lived as a nomad in Paris and its suburbs, frequently changing addresses and hotels. He frequented the Japanese surrealist milieu of Montparnasse. As he already did in Japan, he spent hours sitting on the terrace of cafés, observing the comings and goings of passers-by, taking notes, drawing or writing. However, Aki does not seek to get in touch with the Parisians. He does not try to learn to speak French, on the other hand, he reads a lot and particularly plastic art magazines, but also theater, music and dance. Often he settles on his bed and tries his hand at works on paper, which he describes as “small works”. The surrealist tendency of these testifies to the first influences received in contact with the review Minotaure .

In the spring of 1971, Aki Kuroda left for Quiberon. He goes to Carnac and remains captivated by the modernity of the alignments of menhirs. In December of that same year, Aki and Mariko leave by train for Italy, without a destination or planned route. They discover Rome, the gardens of the Villa d'Este in Tivoli and the Hadrian's Villa. Italians met one night in Rome guide them for a few days in Italy. The following summer, he returned to Italy with Japanese friends he had met in Paris. It passes through Turin, Genoa, Parma, Pisa and Florence. On the way back, he stops at Hauterives (Drôme), to visit the Ideal Palace built by postman Ferdinand Cheval (1836-1924) with pebbles collected during his rounds. Kuroda collects as many references as possible and reconstructs his art history.

Few works come from this period. No canvas, not even paintings on paper. Only a few notebooks bear witness to this amalgamation of received cultures. He secretly creates a nocturnal installation in the Luxembourg Gardens. Of this illicit investment, there remains no trace, no testimony.


Aki Kuroda finally settles in Paris, place Adolphe Chérieux, in the 15th arrondissement. It occupies a ground floor apartment of very small dimensions.

He then resumes painting. The main room, whose surface does not exceed twenty square meters, is transformed into a workshop. Kuroda produces paintings there but also objects of surrealist spirit. He uses colored stickers, cotton and cake molds that he freezes in Plexiglas. He erases a series of postcards, which he names Effaçade. He creates installations with white beans, pieces of wood and fragments of plaster in the shape of pebbles, which he paints and then scatters in large boxes.

During the summer of 1974, he left again for Italy with Kimio Jinno, a university friend found in Paris and now a philosophy student. The first part of the trip, which is organized as work sessions, is devoted to Palazzo Farnese, several sites from the Mannerist period and the fantastic gardens of Bomarzo, designed in 1552 by Pirro Ligorio, at the request of Prince Orsini. Aki is fascinated by the labyrinth of Bomarzo, which he had discovered in the work that the Dutch woman of letters Hella S. Hasse had dedicated to him in 1968 ( The Gardens of Bomarzo ).

In Balises de lectures , this same author wrote: "Strolling through a labyrinth is the very mark of the awareness that precedes the modification, of the descent into oneself before rebirth in a new reality". He visits again the gardens of the Villa d'Este in Tivoli and the Hadrian's Villa. He wants to return to the places of the previous trip in order to fully immerse himself in it. Then he ventures to the south, Naples and Bari.

The following summer, it is the discovery of Spain, from Barcelona to Toledo, from Toledo to Cordoba then to Granada, Seville, where he attends for the first time a bullfight, Cadiz, Madrid, San Sebastien. He stores images and impressions. More than the works in museums, it is the Mediterranean light that captivates him.

Fascinated by the Arab architecture of Andalusia, he decided to cross the Strait of Gibraltar. For lack of a visa, he is prevented from continuing his journey on the other side of the Mediterranean.


Several of his drawings are presented at the World Surrealist Exhibition in Chicago. He has not yet participated in any gallery exhibition.

He is visited by his parents in Paris. Together they leave for Rome.

He participated in an exhibition at the American Center in Paris. On the initiative of the Japanese critic Jun Ebara, paintings by Aki were presented at the International Painting Festival in Cagnes-sur-mer, where he met the neo-dadaist artist Kudo. He visits the Marguerite and Aimé Maeght Foundation in Saint-Paul. Miró's labyrinth responds to his concern for perfection both by its mental dimension and by its configuration, which recalls the serenity of Japanese gardens. The presence of a chapel in this cultural place reminds him of the performances of James Le Byars in the Zen temples in Kyoto.

A friend provides him with an apartment in Brussels. Aki prepares several paintings there which will be presented at the exhibition "Prix Europe de la peinture", which takes place in 1978 in Ostend. Over the next three years, Aki made several stays in Brussels.


His friend Toshi Maeno, a young Japanese critic, supports him at the Kunsthalle in Bremerhaven (Germany), which allows Aki to present for the first time a personal exhibition of his works produced in Paris. Back in Paris, he meets Nina Dausset, who offers him to exhibit some paintings in the gallery she has just opened rue de Lille, unfortunately no sale is concluded. Aki Kuroda finds himself in a critical economic situation, which makes him consider returning to Japan. Before leaving Paris, he decides to make some paintings. He harbors the conviction that nothing has really begun yet.

With the financial help of Kimio Jinno, a well-known friend at Kyoto University, he bought several stretchers, canvases and paint. The two-meter-by-two-meter canvases quickly invade the tiny apartment. They are stacked against the walls. No overview is possible. The diptychs (two meters by four), too long to rest on the walls, cut the room diagonally. The canvases organize his living space, as, ten years later, they will organize the different spaces of his installations.

Aki participates in: “Works on paper-objects” at Villeparisis and “International Exhibition of Original Drawings” at the Museum of Modern Art in Rijeka, Yugoslavia.

In a café in the 15th arrondissement, he met a Franco-Yugoslav couple of journalists through whom he came into contact with the painter Ljuba. He also met and became friends with Anne Tronche, art critic, then with Peter Klasen, who exhibited regularly at the Maeght gallery. These meetings will prove to be decisive. Although Aki hasn't sold any works yet and his resources are exhausted, Aki and Mariko decide not to leave Paris.


Vrije Universiteit in Brussels organizes a personal exhibition of Aki Kuroda who, the same year, takes part in “Grown ups and young people today” at the Grand Palais in Paris. Collective exhibition at the Galerie Nina Dausset..


Through Peter Klasen, the Maeght family meets Aki Kuroda, but the planned visit to the workshop turns out to be impossible; only a few narrow passages are not encumbered by paintings. Huge canvases invaded the apartment. It is impossible to see them entirely, some have gone out on the sidewalk to benefit from a little perspective. At the request of the Maeghts, the canvases are transported to the gallery. They will remain there because they decide to exhibit them a few months later during a personal exhibition of Aki Kuroda in the gallery on rue du Bac. The exhibitions of the Galerie Maeght are then accompanied by the publication of a poster in lithography and a catalog also including creations in lithography. The Arte printing works, rue Daguerre, allowed Aki to discover the techniques of printmaking. He will now use them regularly to invest new forms. His first original lithographs are published.

On October 30, 1980, the opening of the first personal exhibition of Aki Kuroda's works took place at the Galerie Maeght. Marguerite Duras (1914-1996), met a few months earlier in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, was immediately seduced, as much by the character as by her works. She wants to support this artist from Japan that she loves so much. Marguerite Duras, who is one of Aki Kuroda's favorite authors, therefore wrote the text Les Ténèbres de Aki Kuroda prefacing the catalog of the exhibition. She will include this text in the collection Outside published by Albin Michel a few months later.

The exhibition presents all the large paintings and diptychs made for several months, the studio is empty, Aki goes back to work with frenzy. Maeght becomes his exclusive dealer who, from now on, will exhibit him every year. The complicity between Maeght and Kuroda gives him full freedom to design his exhibitions, catalogs and editions.

The same year, Aki Kuroda was selected to appear in the French selection for the XI th Biennale de Paris. Anne Tronche comments on her work in the catalogue. A few critics support Kuroda's work by publishing texts, Otto Hahn in Expre ss and the review + – 0 , Alain Macaire in Canal Manach , and Claire Nadau in Libération , E. Couturier in Art Press

nineteen eighty one

Aki Kuroda got to know the other artists of the Galerie Maeght, Gasiorowski, Voss, Bazaine... He often went to Saint-Paul, where he particularly appreciated the company of Miró, who had come for more than thirty years to spend every been with the Maeghts where he has an engraving workshop. Aki is moved by seeing the huge press on which Miró has painted a dedication. Joan Miró and Aki isolate themselves and discuss at length in the Labyrinth that Miró created in the gardens of the Maeght Foundation. A few years later, Aki will take over the Saint-Paul studio every summer to produce his large engravings on copper, wood, linoleum or carborundum.

Back in Paris, Aki is preparing new paintings for his next exhibition at the Galerie Maeght. The apartment is literally invaded by paintings: the canvases are superimposed in the room which serves as a studio, while the bedroom is transformed into a reserve.

Despite protests from those around him, the artist destroyed several paintings. He suddenly decides to break with the black of the Ténèbres series, in favor of blue, inspired by Kyoto blue, the color used by his paternal grandfather, a kimono manufacturer. He then painted The Fall of Icarus . A silhouette, figure or caryatid, gradually emerges in his works : “These figures seem to be made up of the precipitation, in the chemical sense of the term, of a set of signs which both establish and divide them. » Marcellin Pleynet, text of the catalog of the exhibition « Continuity ».

He travels daily to Arte, where he observes the use of all the different printing techniques. Engraving particularly appealed to him and his first etchings were published. No hesitation, the gesture is sure and assertive, whether it's engraving a copper plate, using a lithographic pencil or a gouge for linoleum.

Anne Tronche publishes in issue 80 of Opus International, Voyage au Noir on the paintings in the exhibition “Ténèbres”. His friend Toshi Maeno writes a text about him in Bijutsutecho.

He takes part in the “Deserts” exhibition in Villeneuve-lès Avignon. Works are exhibited at the Bonnat Museum in Bayonne and at the Taidemuseo, Sara Hildenin in Finland.


Aki Kuroda regularly meets a man in a bakery on rue de Vaugirard. They exchange a few words, sympathize. This is the philosopher Michel Foucault (1926-1984). Foucault attends the opening of the second Kuroda exhibition at the Galerie Maeght; he is deeply impressed by the blue paintings. His comments provide critical support to Kuroda. The “Continuity” exhibition is accompanied by a catalog for which Marcellin Pleynet signs the text: The War of Figures and Signs .

Aki meets Yves Simon, man of letters and singer. Sharing a common vision of space Yves Simon will write several texts for Kuroda. Then Kuroda's works will appear on the covers of books by Yves Simon, including La rush vers l'infini.

The personal exhibition at the Cultural Center of Tarbes offers the visitor a journey among the black canvases A work is presented at the Parisian exhibition: “Electrography in the metro”.


Galerie Takagi is making its new premises “N1-ICA”, located on the outskirts of Nagoya (Japan), available to Kuroda. He will have to design an installation there. At the same time Aki Kuroda proposes, in the gallery located in the city center, a simulation of elements constituting an installation, objects on the ground, directly painted walls, beams of light... Kuroda had not officially created any installations since the when he was still a student. The Ain Museum in Bourg-en-Bresse exhibits and receives on deposit from the National Fund for Contemporary Art a work from the “Continuity” series.


Exhibition of works on paper at the Maeght Gallery, accompanied by the Drawings catalog prefaced by Catherine Francblin. Maeght offers Kuroda to move into a studio in the 14th arrondissement, near the Arte printing works, where the artist goes regularly.

In this new studio, Kuroda paints bigger and bigger pictures. Thanks to the brightness of the place, he can explore a range of colors that are much more vivid and vibrant. During the summer, he lays out dozens of leaves on the ground, which he covers with ink mixed with oil pastel and acrylic paint. The ensemble is presented in the fall on the Galerie Maeght stand at the FIAC. Delphine Renard writes for the catalog: “Aki Kuroda seeks to replace the non-color of surfaces with a color that would more intensely express limitless depth, and works the blue of the night sky. »

Many foreign galleries ask to exhibit Kuroda. Kunio Motoe, curator of the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo who will become chief curator of the museum, contacts him. A few months later, he included works by Kuroda in the “Metaphor and/or symbol” exhibition Aki Kuroda went to Berlin for the first time, on the occasion of his exhibition at the Nothelfer gallery, which published a catalog prefaced by Catherine Francblin.

Meeting with Roland Beller, psychoanalyst, with whom Kuroda composes the titles of some of his works. At the end of 1984, due to work, Aki Kuroda was forced to leave his studio for a year. This incident would pass for anecdotal, if Kuroda did not live the painting, and all creation, as interdependent of the place, whether it acts with or against the latter.


Temporary return to a space so small that, once again, Kuroda no longer has room to paint. He sometimes uses a loft that one of his friends makes available to him. He paints a few pictures there, which take the measure of the place; they are even larger than those of 1984. But Kuroda only occasionally uses this workshop, which is too remote for his taste. Kuroda continues to spend long hours in Left Bank cafes.

He became friends with Yvonne Baby, culture manager at the newspaper Le Monde, and with the writers Roger Salloch and Pascal Bonafoux. Germ in him the idea of ​​a different magazine, devoted exclusively to original creations of artists, philosophers and writers.

The magazine Noise is thus born. This is the beginning of an adventure that will last almost ten years.

Personal exhibitions in Galeries Beaumont in Luxembourg, Maeght in Barcelona and Paris, Art Aktuel in Basel and Ax Actuel in Toulouse. Roger Salloch signs the text of the Paris catalog and Jérôme Sans that of Barcelona. His works are presented in the exhibitions: "Images of today" Niort Museum, "Vertical" Bernard Jordan Gallery, Paris, "Standing Painting" Gutharc-Ballin Gallery, Paris, "Yamura Collection" National Museum of Art, Osaka. Pictorial works and everyday objects now mingle with the canvases and papers on display.


Aki Kuroda returns to settle in the 14th arrondissement. The paintings in the loft are so big that they cannot fit into his new studio. Along with his paintings, Kuroda creates more and more models and objects that he poses, arranges, moves, thus organizing a dialogue between the paintings erected on the walls and the space of the studio.

Through Gérard Gasiorowski, Kuroda meets Jean-Pierre Bibring, astrophysicist. Then begins a new collaboration, which allows Kuroda to expand his knowledge of space and the cosmos. Bibring will write several texts for exhibition catalogs by Aki Kuroda, thus situating the artist's creations in a scientific dimension.

Aki Kuroda now favors personal exhibitions where he can stage his works. Galerie Maeght, with a catalog prefaced by Pascal Bonafoux. Second exhibition at the Takagi Gallery in Nagoya, where his friend Kimio Jinno became the artistic adviser. The Sedan Castle Museum presents three exhibitions chosen by the critic Toshi Maeno. One of them is devoted to recent works by Aki Kuroda.

Travel to the Aeolian Islands. These islands, made from the same rock and linked together by the bottom of the sea, are like Kuroda's expressions and supports: drawings, paintings, photos, installations, objects, so different and yet forming the whole that is his work.

In the tradition of Maeght editions, a bibliophile book is published. Aki organizes a progression of original lithographs responding to Pascal Bonafoux's text. Lettre anonyme was born out of the close collaboration between the artist and the author. The deluxe edition of the book is enhanced with original linocuts and gouache. After a design and production of more than eight months, the work is presented, accompanied by prints, during an exhibition at the Maeght gallery.

Numerous exhibitions for galleries, museums or art centers abroad including: Saarbrücken State Gallery, Galerie La Main, Brussels, Aalborg Museum, Denmark, Galerie Karl Pfeferle, Munich, Galerie Beaumont, Luxembourg, Château de Chambord, Museum of Modern Art, Hyogo and National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo. For his exhibition at the Galerie Maeght, presented at the same time as the sculptures of Susana Solano, Aki Kuroda is composing a set of canvases entitled Revolutionary Calendar, commented on in the catalog by Ramon Tio Bellido.

Recurrence of themes related to volcanism (inspired in particular by Stromboli), mythology, space and the human body (particularly the brain).


Aki Kuroda travels to Denmark for his exhibition at Galerie Aeblegaarden-Egelund. He will exhibit there regularly. Second exhibition at the Galerie Maeght in Barcelona. Kuroda lays out fragments of objects from his workshop on the ground. He does not consider this as an autonomous work, but as an accompaniment to his paintings. Exhibition at the Nishimura Gallery in Tokyo.

First approach to the world of dance on the occasion of the production of the program cover for Raymonda, a ballet directed by Rudolf Nureyev at the Opéra Garnier. From then on, he wanted to see dancers evolve among his works.

He painted little that year to devote himself to the design of major exhibitions / installations planned for the following year.


With the death of his father, not only one of the pillars of Aki's life disappears, but also one of his sources of inspiration. Aki's father still held a lit cigarette in his hand, not really smoking it. The cigarette followed his every move, burning his hat, his clothes, the curtains of the cafes or the house. The black keys in some of Aki's paintings represent the holes caused by his father's cigarettes.

Le Cadran Solaire, in Troyes, organizes an exhibition and asks Kuroda to take over the chapel of the Hôtel-Dieu. In a very short time, Aki creates, on site, a three-dimensional canvas, a screen four meters high and more than nine meters long, which cuts out the space of this sacred place. On the ground, he arranges and throws debris of plaster and objects that seem to create a course of islets. Only a cameraman attends the creation. The film is then screened in the exhibition entitled “La Notte”. Aki takes over the Varia Theater in Brussels, the exhibition at the “Le Passage” art center in Troyes is resumed at the Arsenal in Metz.

The Ministry of Culture and the Choreographic Research Group of the Paris Opera asked him to design sets for a ballet. The collaboration between choreographer Stéphanie Aubin, composer Denis Lavaillant and Aki Kuroda takes on such proportions that the set elements become participants in the ballet Passage de l'heure bleue, presented at the Center Georges-Pompidou.

Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe writes for the exhibition at the Galerie Maeght: "His experience of painting is (sayable like) the experience of a typhoon or a cyclone: ​​there is the first passage of a raging storm, which devastates everything – it is the time which precedes the act of painting, but it is also the moment when one enters into painting, without knowing what is happening, but with the clear knowledge that something is happening and that it is a disaster; then there is suddenly, miraculously, the "eye" of the cyclone: ​​strange calm (the storm is raging around), we see the blue of the sky, nothing moves: syncope in the devastation - and it's time to painting, just that time; finally the storm returns and confirms the disaster: time for observation and a look – from him or from others, it doesn't matter. There was this moment of grace in the catastrophe: that is basically what happened, the event of which the storm was the announcement. »


Are brought together in a box, the three volumes of Kuroda's notebooks, co-edited by Jinno and Maeght. Aki Kuroda wants them like a drawing board bringing together notes, projects, inks. They are printed in lithograph, Aki controls the printing daily, as he had attended the printing of The Seasons of Aki Kuroda, an original lithograph book published for the exhibition in Brussels the previous year.

Kuroda meets Pascal Quignard, all of whose Small Treaties will be published by Maeght. To illustrate the eight volumes, Aki produced a series of drawings reproduced in lithography on the covers. This meeting between the Parisian writer and the Japanese artist, will lead Pascal and Aki to long hours of joint work from which will be born a set of twenty-five large canvases where text and painting are mixed. For the first time, a writer is composing texts intended to appear on canvas.

At the request of Galerie Gutsch, Aki Kuroda travels to Berlin to work on a series of large-format serigraphs.

Kuroda's first exhibition in London, the Mayor Rowan Gallery publishes on this occasion a catalog with a preface by William Packer.

Two exhibitions take place in Denmark, at the Aeblegaarden Gallery in Holte and at the Egelund Gallery in Copenhagen. He also travels to Brussels for the opening of his exhibition at the Galerie Debras-Bical.

All his personal exhibitions keep him away from his studio. Back in Paris, he completed a work of carborundum engravings.

Creation of the spinnaker of the boat “Charles Jourdan”, for “The Sailing Race Around the World”. Here again Aki Kuroda develops his work by mixing plastic arts and decorative arts. This spinnaker is on display after the race at the Chantier naval de La Villette, in Paris.

With the multiplication of installation-performances, integrating works, staging various participants, but with works linked to the architecture of the city, this daily relationship was confirmed throughout the 1990s.


Anxious to create, around his work, a synergy between his friends, Aki Kuroda creates a new newspaper: Cosmissimo. More intimate than Noise, Cosmissimo is also produced in original lithography. The newspaper, with the publication dictated by the events, approximately two numbers per year, will be the reflection of collaborations, exchanges of ideas, but also will evoke the enriching meetings in which its friends find themselves. Thus will participate among others: the architects Tadao Ando or Claude Parent, the writers Pascal Quignard, Alain Veinstein, Gilbert Lascault or Yves Simon, the filmmaker Wim Wenders, the astrophysicist Hubert Reeves, the fashion designers Sonia Rykiel or Paco Rabanne, the photographer William Klein.

In the same spirit, Aki Kuroda creates a “show-assembly” Lumière - variations with three voices plus one . This show took place in 1991 at the Montorgueil theater in Paris; Pascal Bonafoux, art historian, Rolland Beller, psychoanalyst Jean-Pierre Bibring, planetologist, debate against the background of a red plastic curtain. They intersect their points of view on light. A cellist (Olivier Mosset) sounds a few improvised notes, on the right, the empty space is filled with blue light, the light of Bleu Magma . A young woman, (Nadine Darmon), wrapped in a sort of cocoon, is suspended in the air like a chrysalis. She sometimes sticks her head out of the fabric and declaims a text written for the occasion by Bernard Chouraqui. A man (Gérald Sertelet) revolves around the young woman; he hits her while screaming.

In New York, Soho Art House presents under the title Double take , an exhibition of three Japanese artists: Aki Kuroda, Leiko Ikemura, Yuko Shiraishi. The large canvases are accompanied by texts by Daniel Dobbels and Akira Tatehata, professor at Tama Art University in Tokyo. Many exhibitions take place: Galerie Debras-Bical, Brussels, Spark Gallery, Tokyo, Galerie Schoeneck, Riehen, Galerie Saxe, Los Angeles.

Always involved in contemporary creation, Aki Kuroda produced three covers for the magazine Architecture d'Aujourd'hui.


Kuroda now refuses to limit his creation to canvas and frame. He designs Angel's Feathers Wisper. This performance took place in 1992 in the cave of Nucourt, in Normandy. Guided by an Ariadne's thread, the spectators discover a unique canvas, at the end of a wandering through a set of underground and dark rooms and crypts forming a maze. Some visitors have torches. Dancers play with strings, someone counts numbers, his voice rises in the labyrinth. The fragmented puzzle of the cosmos is illuminated by a grazing light. Visitors wander, stop, listen, watch the bodies moving in the dark. Sometimes, an intense light surprises at the bend of a gallery, illuminating heterogeneous objects. Visitors walk, stroll, meet, sometimes talk to each other, exchange impressions, then they return to get lost in the maze. Aki Kuroda's universe comes alive: the islands he celebrates are those of complexity, encounters, friendships and chance. Musicians, writers, planetologists, architects, psychoanalysts, dancers or photographers, they have one day followed the strange wandering of a singular line, theirs, the one that led them into the universe of Aki Kuroda. As for each of Kuroda's future performances, a few photographs constitute the only trace of the ephemeral event.

During an exhibition at the Ferme du Buisson, in Noisiel, Kuroda decides not to show any paintings. In response to the monumental sculptures by Richard Deacon exhibited in the same place, he chose to scatter the floor with fragments of objects from his studio. Placed on the frame, the painted elements, models, respond to the objects. The city of Tarascon pays homage to him by presenting an important exhibition in the Museum and in the Chapel of the Château de Tarascon.

For the first time since the opening of Czechoslovakia, official places exhibit a foreign artist. Retrospective at the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava and exhibitions of engravings at the Medium Gallery of Fine Arts.

Noise receives the Vasari prize for the best art magazine. Alechinsky, Boltanski, Flanagan, Sam Francis, Garouste, Gilbert and George, Tremlett and Penone made original lithographs for the journal. Kuroda designs the poster for the Paris Jazz Festival.


Aki Kuroda continues his pictorial research by developing his engraved work, a masterful series appears. For the first time there are letters, numbers, words or phrases in English The End, Any One, Any Way.

The choreographer Angelin Preljocaj, in 1991, asked Kuroda for the sets and costumes for the legendary ballet Parade , which was to be staged at the Paris Opera. Kuroda will thus have to take over from Pablo Picasso who had originally created the sets and costumes for this ballet by Diaghilev, conceived in 1917 to music by Erik Satie, with a libretto by Guillaume Apollinaire and Jean Cocteau. In 1981, the ballet was revived with sets by American artist David Hockney. Kuroda begins by refusing, fearing that he will not have time to paint the huge elements constituting the decor himself. He finally agrees to design and create the sets but refuses the costumes knowing that he would have neither the time nor the technique to control the finish.

The Parade ballet is presented at the Opéra Garnier, in Paris in the spring. Once again Aki Kuroda has gone beyond the simple project. He offers Angelin Preljocaj polystyrene elements whose shapes are taken from his paintings. Preljocaj decides to involve them in his choreography and even to make them go beyond their role as decor. The dancers begin pas de deux with Aki's creations, they move them, lean on them, embrace them. A few months later, the ballet was presented in the main courtyard of the Palais des Papes, for the Festival d'Avignon. Aki Kuroda realizes the official poster of the festival. Worldwide success is reserved for the ballet and its talented choreographer. Editions Plume publishes a book dedicated to the project and the creation of the ballet Parade. In addition to a few documents on Picasso's and Hockney's decorations, the book reproduces Aki's sketchbooks and the photos showing the meetings of Preljocaj and Kuroda, in his studio, both seeking to create a unique work, designed with a same spirit.

The architects Daufresne and Le Garrec, who are renovating the OPAC office located in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, have incorporated a monumental painting by Aki Kuroda into their building project. A wall is erected between two wings of the building to accommodate the work designed by Kuroda which takes up the white silhouette delimited by the blue of the cosmos.

The year 1993 is capital for Kuroda. It brings him the recognition of his country of origin, indeed a project started some time earlier finally sees the light of day.

Personal exhibitions in the most important Japanese national museums.

Kunio Motoe, who has become chief curator of the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, suggests to the members of the Museum, not only to exhibit a living artist, but to leave him free choice in the works, the presentation and even the architecture of the halls. This is how the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo and the National Museum of Art in Osaka offered Kuroda to invest all of their spaces. It will not be a retrospective but an almost exhaustive presentation of the works produced over the past three years.

For the first time, sets of large canvases are grouped together and presented in panels of six or nine elements. The immensity of the place offers Kuroda the possibility of organizing his work as a suite of thirty-two large canvases, punctuated by the work on paper, represented by two sets of sixty-six works. Aki Kuroda invests the space and the walls, arranging polystyrene forms there, painting the walls here in bright colors, as well as architectures or fragments of the cosmos.

Pascal Quignard writes for this exhibition the text Daedalos, the ray of the black moon, he rubs shoulders with a critical text by Kunio Motoe. During the exhibition a supplement is added to the catalog, reproducing the views of each room of the Tokyo exhibition. The exhibitions were a huge success both in Tokyo in 1993 and for its resumption in Osaka in 1994. The bet was however risky to exhibit a contemporary and living artist whose work is still little known in Japan.

These exhibitions are an opportunity for Aki Kuroda to reunite with his childhood friends. The latter have formed a support group for Kuroda which, in their eyes, best represents Japan in Europe.

The preparation and installation of exhibitions keep Aki away from his studio for many months. Aki knows that on his return to Paris he will have to enter a studio emptied of his works. The cities and architectures painted on the walls of museums will be a new starting point for his creations.


The Clermont-Ferrand Museum of Fine Arts, which has just been renovated, opens its rooms to a Kuroda exhibition, from April 19 to June 26. Already in the past the volcanoes of the Aeolian Islands appeared in works such as Stromboli , a canvas from 1990. For this exhibition in the heart of Auvergne, Aki decided to bring together or create works taking up this theme. The rooms are invaded by objects and fragments from the workshop, including bright red shoes. The cities appear like islands in the center of the monochrome canvases, they come from direct interventions on the walls of the Japanese museums where he has just exhibited. The exhibition is titled “Volcanoes”. Daniel Dobbels' text for the catalog evokes molten matter and deposits where the materials are lights inspired by the Magma works.

The São Paulo Biennale devotes a major exhibition to him. Here again Aki Kuroda is not satisfied with exhibiting paintings, but he conceives a staging and a setting in space of his works which he confronts with objects sometimes created on the spot. He paints the walls and affixes the titles of the series: Darkness in Paradise, Cosmissimo, Angel's Feathers Whisper.

In Pau, the Center d'Art le Parvis, exhibits, from November 23 to January 15, the recent works of Aki Kuroda, this is his second exhibition in this place. He spends several days preparing his installation. Branches, thrown on the ground, they open the “Space Garden” exhibition. Daniel Dobbels in the text of the catalog writes: “The sky is an immense mobile – a superplanet. It splits and activates – and what falls, like dice, are architectures, precarious structures, buildings that we climb without worrying about ladders: Space Garden, City Garden… One of the deep lines of force that haunts Aki Kuroda's painting consists of building and destroying at the same time... to get out of the labyrinth, he says. So that something very clear emerges from something chaotic: strong but airy spaces...

The Galerie Maeght, in its new premises near the Center Georges-Pompidou, presents an exhibition entitled “Cosmissimo”, featuring paintings from exhibitions in Japanese museums.

Solo exhibitions: Imura Art Gallery, Kyoto, and Tour des Cardinals, French Institutes in Zagreb and Sofia.


At the request of the architects Jean Pistre and Denis Valode, Kuroda designs a mural for the Leonardo da Vinci University in Nanterre. He monitors its implementation daily. This is the artist's second intervention for a public place.

Astrophysicist Hubert Reeves, whom he had met a few years earlier, asked Kuroda to illustrate the covers of his books The First Second and Latest News from the Cosmos , published by Editions du Seuil. Aki finds in him a scientific answer to his artistic concerns about space and the cosmos. From then on, their friendship would continue unfailingly.

For the first time Kuroda brings together in an exhibition at the Galerie Maeght in Paris the objects and photos that accompany his creation in his studio. The exhibition “– 270° C” (absolute temperature of the cosmos) brings together the sponges (large white forms), Red Shoe, The Aeolian Islands (drawings and inks representing the islands that are the different expressions of Kuroda), as well as the photographs, projects and models of constructions and exhibitions. On this occasion, Aki realizes in lithography a small booklet, Titres , which resumes, summarizes and organizes his last ten years of work.

Personal exhibitions: Galerie Kaj Forsblom in Zurich then Helsinki, Galerie Debras Bical in Brussels, Galerie Richter in Rottach-Egern, near Munich, Galerie Wassermann in Munich and Galerie Ingrid Weith in Ludwigsburg in Germany.


The “Parade” ballet is presented in China, with, for the first time, the costumes created by Aki Kuroda.

The Hugh Lane Museum, Municipal Gallery of Modern Art in Dublin, is organizing a retrospective of papers, engravings and paintings. Text from the catalog of Pascal Bonafoux.

The distance from the studio gives Aki complete freedom to think of an ideal presentation, a reflection of his creation, encompassing painting, sculpture, photography, staging, choreography...


Invited by the Casa França-Brasil, in Rio de Janeiro, Kuroda realizes his largest installation to date, investing the rooms but also the corridors. He sets up panels, paints large flat areas or geometric patterns on them, serving as backgrounds to hang paintings on or to paint elements of Cosmogarden . Panels, paintings, objects are connected by a white thread. Like Arianne's thread in the cave of Nucourt. The floor is strewn with white cups and saucers. He restores the environment of his studio cluttered with a thousand objects, connected by threads, entangled, scattered. All this is necessary for its creation.

The glass mosaic that Kuroda designed for a corridor connecting two stations is inaugurated in the Osaka metro. This is the first work commissioned to adorn the walls of the Osaka subway. This wall composition, more than nine meters long, is seen daily by thousands of passengers, which is of great importance to Aki.

Only a few paintings come out of his studio. Kuroda is monopolized by an installation-performance project. He wants to set up a show/exhibition in France, the concept of which he has been developing for many years. Kuroda compels himself to put on paper all his thoughts and conceptions. His project is taking shape. He had a yellow rectangle background printed on large sheets of paper. He draws the models of the installation, where dancers evolve, alongside spacecraft, toys. The drawings are presented at the Galerie Maeght in Paris in the spring. Aki covers the walls of the gallery with his models. Only a large canvas is on display. The public is confused by these new works. Of course, there is the emblematic silhouette, but it is surrounded by blocks of color. For the first time, blue, yellow, green, red and black mix. The inscriptions invade the surface. We find Angel's Feathers Whispers, UFO, Red Shoes, Minotauromachy, Cosmogarden, Anthropie, Green or, Blue Magma, Darkness in Paradise, Continuity, – 270° C, Noise, Minosideral, Meteorite, Stromboli, Chora, Space Meeting, Crystal Hasard … Aki seems to be taking inventory of his creation for thirty years.

The Otemae Art Center in Kobe is devoting an exhibition to him, as well as the Capazza Gallery in Nancay.

Aki Kuroda devoted the following months to the elaboration and then the construction of Cosmogarden '97 - Cristal chance . The installation/show/performance takes place in September at the Manufacture des Œillets, in Ivry-sur-Seine. For Kuroda, it is a dream materialized in the form of fiction / reality, non-fiction / non-reality, a floating assembly, a city under construction, a reflection on the links that connect life to art, nature and culture, with the grotto and the garden as its central axis, which, by its organic form, can expand to the dimensions of the cosmos. The creation is organized around three temporal elements: the past with Minotaur , the present with everyday objects (books, fragments of sophisticated design: cups, etc.) and the future open to the cosmos.

Camille Fallen writes: “A Minosidereal (a star animal) fell in the Manufacture des Œillets, a space of 2,000 m2. It is the universe and the story of Aki Kuroda in its entirety that falls from the sky and bursts. Once again, the bodies of dancers (based on a choreography by Joël Borges) are caught up in the movement of his cosmic inspiration, music (that of Dragan Petrovic and that of Goran Vejdova) resonates as if from the depths of space . The Manufacture des Œillets has been transformed into a living Cosmos-garden, a labyrinth at the crossroads of the past and the future, a place of encounters and “junctions”. The Minosidereal fallen from the sky represents one of the possible metamorphoses of man. Broken by its fall in the Manufacture, it is transformed into a Minotauromachine over the “repairs”. The journey inside the Manufacture is like a journey through the life and work of Aki Kuroda. At the exit of a labyrinth, the visitors arrive on the spot: spontaneously, they invest the space, walk around, “settle”. They have become the inhabitants of the universe they travel through. They walk in the middle of what elsewhere we would have called the "stage", but there they stop near the dancers and the bodies, cross the immense canvases which offer passages on the place of the figures: they are autonomous and however, they belong to what is happening, they draw their own choreography in space when Joël Borges himself does not come to take one of them to lead it who knows where... Subtly, the visitors to one have been metamorphosed: they themselves have become the “figures” of this universe. »

The Actes Sud editions publish Cristal Hasard, memory of this event where all artistic expressions are developed.


The architect Jean-Yves Barrier entrusts Kuroda with the creation of a glass mosaic panel for the facade of the University of Blois. Kuroda follows the manufacture which fascinates him.

Exhibition “Space city”, “Cosmojungle”, at the Ham Gallery in Nagoya. A publication appears on this occasion, Aki Kuroda organizes this work as a collection of documents, mixing photographs of studio or ballets and photographic creations, drawings and excerpts from his notebooks. Met the previous year, the architect Tadao Ando, ​​who, like Kuroda tries to situate man in space, offers him to work on a wall of a building he is soon to build in Nagoya. Aki Kuroda and Tadao Ando go beyond the idea of ​​simple painting applied to a building and decide to compose a relief (six meters by nine) emerging from the facade and then painted. Kuroda's figures and forms take on a new breadth and dimension.

Two exhibitions take place in Switzerland, one at the Proarta Gallery in Zurich, bringing together old works on canvas and on paper; the other at the Schoeneck Gallery in Rihen on the outskirts of Basel.

Yves Taralon, who is responsible for the development of the public spaces of the New Museum of Modern Art in Strasbourg, commissioned Kuroda to paint a mural. It will be the only work to be permanently displayed in the new museum.

The Japanese poet Taijiro Amazawa, who made a remarkable translation of the text of Julien Gracq Prose for a foreigner, had his work illustrated by Kuroda.

Aki Kuroda, as Miró did every year, spends the summer in Saint-Paul. He locks himself up for ten days in the workshops to devote himself to the development of a series of carborundum engravings, he was assisted by Pablo Larregui, a technician-engraver working at the Arte printing house. He escapes from his work only to stroll through the Maeght Foundation, located a few meters from the workshops. He remembers those moments spent with Joan Miró in the labyrinth. The large copper plates are patiently worked and covered with carborundum, he likes to work in this place. He works at his own pace without any outside gaze or constraint.


Aki Kuroda must leave his studio on rue Danville, in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. He is looking for a new studio. More than a place, he wants to find a space conducive to reflection and creation. He tries to settle in the north of Paris, but after having "tried" two workshops on the right bank, he returns to settle on the left bank, in the district where he has his habits, his rue Daguerre, the Arte printing house, his bookstores and his cafe from where he observes the city. He can get back to work. The successive removals of the studios gave him the opportunity to review the old canvases, with the help of Mariko, he installed them in the new studio with great attention, manipulated them, observed them for long hours. The months spent without a workshop lead him to develop a different work. So he takes up photography again. It now serves as a starting point for images composed on the computer.

For the exhibition at the Maeght Gallery, he chose to present the engravings from the Cristal Hasard series, accompanied by epoxy sculptures. He organizes the hanging by juxtaposing the large carborundum, he composes and decomposes diptychs, triptychs and complete walls. The Maeght Gallery in Barcelona is devoting a major exhibition to him bringing together works from 1984 to 1999. Yasuo Kobayashi, who had already written critical texts on Kuroda's work, and Aki Kuroda are brought together in Le Passage de l'ange , a work by bibliophile from the Duos collection, published by Éditions Maeght.

Gallimard uses it to illustrate the covers of the six volumes of L'Histoire de la philosophie . The Musée de Montparnasse, in Paris, is organizing an exhibition entitled “From Foujita to Kuroda”.


Kuroda realizes for the second time the official poster of the Festival d'Avignon. At the same time, the Marina Gallery in Avignon exhibits his recent works.

The City of Paris commissioned him to paint a monumental mural for a building on rue du Colonel-Driant, in the 1st arrondissement. Aki exploits and integrates the reliefs of the wall in his creation.


As often, Aki Kuroda produces few works when he devotes his time to designing and preparing exhibitions.

The successive studio changes disturb Aki Kuroda who, in order to create, needs to organize his space and project a universe where paintings, objects, videos mingle... The installation of his works in his new studio and the research undertaken in the archives to illustrate the monograph in preparation push Aki Kuroda to a re-reading of thirty years of work. Indeed, even if he systematically keeps works from each series or each period, as well as documents testifying to the whole life of his studio, he had never before considered the past years. This analysis led him to design the “Red Garden” exhibition at the Galerie Maeght, for which he produced huge diptych paintings that he considered to be retrospective works of his thought. These paintings make little reference to old paintings but bear witness to moments in his personal life. For the first time, traces of his childhood and youth appear, memories of his father and Lake Takara. The exhibition presents only a few paintings. Imposing red monochromes juxtaposed with black canvases. Aki Kuroda develops a particular technique for the latter. He perfectly coats the surface with white, which he then covers with black acrylic. In the still fresh paint, traces of deep furrows. The slow and meticulous conception contrasts with the necessary speed of the gesture. No retouching or repentance possible. Aki falls into his universe as Alice did in the garden. High dream , Alice on the highway or Red-Garden reflect the recurrence of the theme of the city both by reorganizing its architecture and its structure. City that he now confronts with the garden. He confides, about these new canvases: “The city is so fragile in front of nature” .

He spends part of the summer in Saint-Paul. There, in the engraving workshops, he continues a work, begun in 2000, on large engravings. Two new High Blue City series, linoleums and Architectures , carborundum engravings, are completed. Then he discovers the technique of monotype on glass. Here again, a new gesture leads to a new expression. In large landscapes are scattered frail silhouettes.

Galerie Schoeneck in Riehen, Basel, is organizing its fourth Kuroda exhibition. Despite a difficult international situation following the attacks of September 11 in New York, Beat Schoeneck chose to favor the most recent works at the risk of confusing the many Swiss collectors who have carefully followed Kuroda's work for years.

In November, for a major exhibition that the Carré Saint-Vincent is devoting to him in Orléans, Aki hangs a 26 m 2 panel, made up of recent canvases, in front of an installation that includes a video and a photographic print. The first floor of the exhibition brings together old canvases and new engravings. He hangs his most recent canvas several meters high. Although immediately attributable to Aki Kuroda, this canvas heralds a profound change in his work. Indeed the famous blue inseparable from Kuroda for years has disappeared to make way for bright or even fluorescent colors. The space of the canvas is broken up into flat tints, enclosing the central figure. The iconic silhouette seems wedged between color blocks. Icons, symbols or titles drawn in oil pencil, black or red, break the rigidity. For this exhibition he produced a serigraphy which he signed in the presence of the public on the evening of the inauguration.

The Galerie Maeght, which lists all of his works, offers him a retrospective exhibition of his engraved work. A selection is made among the three hundred boards produced in thirty years. The exhibition takes place at the Galerie Maeght in Barcelona, ​​where the rooms of a 15th century palace make it possible to develop such a retrospective.

Upon his return from Barcelona Aki Kuroda flew to Japan where the Mori Yu Gallery, a new gallery in Kyoto, is offering an exhibition of recent works, paintings, papers and installations. Some works are made on site.

His friend, the Japanese poet Taijira Amazawa asked him again to make a cover for one of his books.

Kuroda's involvement in the world of publishing and his attachment to contemporary French authors led him to be chosen by Gallimard to illustrate the 2002 almanach for the Pléiade.


The Carré Saint-Vincent exhibition is resumed in Pithiviers at the Château de Bellecourt. This is an opportunity for Aki Kuroda to practice organizing his works for different places.

Publication of a new issue of Cosmissimo , entitled Cosmojungle . The Cuvelier-Nicoly Foundation in Brussels, which organizes Les Jeunesses Musicales Internationales, asked him to produce a lithograph to be included in the portfolio bringing together six contemporary artists.

For his exhibition at Galerie Maeght in the spring, Aki Kuroda develops a series of works on paper on a daily basis. Anne Kerner recounts the exhibition as follows: “It is her imaginary herbarium which has just invaded the walls of the Galerie Maeght. Nothing but flowers. Especially red… But not just any flowers. Those born of a wandering and sprawling mind, an open and curious mind, a mind full of humor too. His “mutant flowers”, as he calls them, take the form of an animal as well as a body. And they become fish-flower, cat-flower, rabbit-flower, face-flower, nose-flower, or dress-flower when they don't look like one of those comic book characters that Kuroda loves. »

“I like the idea of ​​a garden for its space delimited by borders like the square or rectangular painting and the installations in museums. But at the same time I like going out of bounds. Blow things up. My work is like a seed planted in the ground. But these grow in all directions, without maintenance, without intervention. »

This is exactly how the visitor perceives his studio... And this is also how one receives this jumble of works, photographs, memories, symbols which populate and invest from floor to ceiling this amazing place to work. Here, the garden becomes a jungle. A jungle of sculptures, paintings, fetish objects, souvenirs from Kyoto. Between East and West. Between tradition and rupture. Objects from his incredible universe of experimentation in constant expansion, proliferation. Growth.

“In art we go from chaos to cosmos, in life it's the opposite. »

Biography by Mariko Kuroda and Yoyo Maeght, 2017