Aki Kuroda by Jérôme Sans - The Vertigo of the Void

The Vertigo of the Void by Jérôme Sans, 2002

Advancing like a tightrope walker on the edge between the Far East and the West, Aki Kuroda is a kind of stateless person who would like to widen the borders still further.

Coming from a Japan that the desire to catch up with the New World caused it to abandon its ancestral traditions, having rubbed shoulders with European art very early on (Picasso, Braque and cubism), nourished by travels but now settled in France, Aki Kuroda surveys the contemporary memory through composite signs gleaned from each side of the east-west divide, as if he wanted to develop a new identity. And if he uses the plastic signs of Japanese culture, he manifests by a diversion the refusal of his literary and mystical submission. Drawing from all sources, his nomadic approach is symptomatic of the behavior of a new generation of artists faced with the proliferation of the contemporary world invaded by images and information.

In his "black" paintings of 1980, Aki Kuroda inscribed on the black surface screened with fine white lines a gestural writing of white signs which, by giving the background a kind of movement, broke the logical "regulation" of the screen and energized the picture by a contradictory rhythmic movement which seemed to well up from the pictorial material.

But, if this writing is reminiscent of Japanese calligraphy, here it is distorted, unintelligible, used strategically as a trap to better hide what is behind, to better calm the violence of black, to give transparency and to create thus a space in the opacity of black. Black which is for him the representation of “infinitude”, of darkness, that is to say a place which gives materiality to the invisible and which is always at the heart of his work. By this world of silence where the being absorbs the universe, dissolves in it, by a painting of monochrome writing, Kuroda is close to the "White Writings" of Mark Tobey, as well as to the Japanese school Kano.

Black still remains the center of his approach today, even if he now uses other colors, primary, such as blue, red..., chosen for their greater potential for depth, space in itself. and violence that nothing can calm, which the avalanche of pictorial signs corroborates.

Space is always structured with the most extreme economy of means; but the universe of gestural signs is now accompanied by an enlargement of the writing by essentially vertical sequences which punctuate the painting – like the patterns of traditional kimonos or the painting of Barnett Newmann –, scan it and cut it into a rhythmic space. Dynamics exacerbated by the stability of these vertical forms, born from the ideogram of the abstract ideogram, which, like columns, support and formulate the architecture of the painting while operating, by a slight shift, a circulation of the gaze quickly caught up or postponed.

True architectonic elements, these forms are in fact caryatids, because, if around the black core of the first paintings there was already the desire to slide towards representation, now through the physical dimension of a wider line and the enlargement of the sequence, the signs stand out and become figures of an anthropomorphic reality.

Brushed with chopped, frontal, schematic lines, they make one think of characters tight in kimonos or of the crumpled drapes of a certain ancient Greek statuary. But isolated are these monumental characters drawn up in a strange and impossible confrontation from which deaf a violence all the more strong that it cannot be given free rein. Because all seem tied up, injured, arrested, trying to move, in order to find an identity. And, if the image moves, it is only to better fall back into the void, that of space: figures of human appearance, they nevertheless take on the appearance of apparitional silhouettes that no structure comes to animate and that the simplified line lingers in the shadows, to the point of sometimes being mere “analogs”.

Aki Kuroda means the body but removes all expressiveness, all previous traces to make it transparent, empty. The forgotten, masked, gagged or diverted face can only reinforce this idea of suspense, of transparency, of absence, and thus, these figures resembling a kind of mummies have an affinity with the erect mannequins of De Chirico.

This populated universe manifests the vertigo of another space, that of death, of emptiness.

Violence of the pictorial background, multiplicity of references to history that travel and cross all the West and the Far East, insubstantiality of the bodies make Aki Kuroda's work a painting of noises that wants to be as silent as possible.

The Vertigo of the Void by Jérôme Sans, 2002