Kuroda by Marguerite Duras

Les Ténèbres of Aki Kuroda

In 1980, Peter Klasen, who regularly exhibited at the Maeght Gallery, advised the Maeghts to meet Aki Kuroda. Yoyo and his father went to the artist's home. A visit to the studio is impossible, only a few square meters are not invaded by the paintings. So the paintings are brought to the Maeght Gallery to be seen. They will not leave the Gallery and will appear in the exhibition that is immediately scheduled. "Darkness", the first Aki Kuroda exhibition at the Maeght Gallery.

Marguerite Duras - who is then one of Aki Kuroda's favorite authors - writes the text of this very first catalog, text below.

Continuité I, 1980 - 200 x 200 cm

Les Ténèbres of Aki Kuroda

There are fourteen paintings in Aki Kuroda's exhibition. In appearance, they look the same. This resemblance remains external, it only allows the regrouping of the work done during three years. The paintings do not look the same. I did not see that Aki Kuroda painted black of night. I saw that he painted such or such night, such or such another, the general night not existing. The fourteen paintings are named by Aki Kuroda: Les Ténèbres (The Darkness). This plural is the exhibition. It expresses the fact of the exhibition.

Aki Kuroda first does as if he were painting. He indeed paints. He covers the whole canvas with white paint, he paints it in all its surface in white. Then he has to wait for the canvas to dry. Days, maybe weeks, I don't know. Then Aki Kuroda starts again. He does as if he was painting. He paints. He covers the white canvas with black paint. It is by going back into Aki Kuroda's work that I see the thickness of time that he has to amass on the surface of the canvas to then approach it with what will become the disfigurement of the black named secularly the painting. Everyone, I feel, should see it as well as I do. So, of black, it covers the white. There, at this stage, already, as for me, the fear begins because the black will remain forever on the white. And because on some of the paintings, especially the most recent ones,we can no longer say that the black surface is only covering the white surface.
Nuit (Night), 1980 - 200 x 200 cm

Something else happens, is seen, yes, already, irregularities, movements, barely visible accidents that occur, arise and then repeat themselves regularly. You may remember, these prints of the bare feet of a prehistoric man buried in a thirty thousand year old clay, the steps of someone who passed by, who slipped, who fell, who got up and then left the clay path where his steps were written and then never appeared again, buried in a clay thirty thousand years thick, the steps of someone who passed, who slipped, who fell, who got up and who then left the path of clay where his steps were written and who then never appears again.

First Night III, 1980 - 150 x 150 cm

At the end the beams of the accidents of the black thickness produce a direction. The canvas takes a direction. It will always keep it. This is admirable. Yes, the tremors of the painting hand, the right hand here I think, produce like a general direction of the canvas, a course, like that of the wind. What will cover the canvas at the end of the journey will also be caught in this wind. Since the beginning of the world, the wind has never passed over the sand or anything else in the same way, never. It has never been the same wind, the same sand, ever. Here, today, what passes in front of us is the hand of Aki Kuroda, it is the wind that arrives on the fresh, still liquid black and bends it as it would bend the sand under it or the surface of the sea.../...

First Night V, 1980 - 150 x 150 cm

There is an intermediate stage between the blacks and the destruction of their extent, which concerns the squaring of the blacks, their division into balanced fractions, into notebook stripes or rains perfectly perpendicular to the bottom of the canvas. But I see there a supplementary carrying away of the sacrificial stage, still more unbelief, intoxication, still more time in the thickness of the canvas, still more ceremonial, but of no worship, of none, that to arrive always at this minute where will be played the whole fortune of time and life accumulated in the canvas.

Noctambule, 1980 - 150 x 150 cm
Just as Aki Kuroda was patient, just as he was slow, so he will become like lightning, his own danger. This is above all Kuroda, the game that is being played here. Aki Kuroda builds the territory of his own massacre with the same care as that of his happiness. This is where we are with him. The silence is thus made by Kuroda on the intelligence of the painting itself. He says that there is something to be understood there but without ever knowing what, that there is something to be said there but without ever knowing how. The attempt that I am making at the moment, I also see it as coming from the silence established by Kuroda.

Kuroda is ahead of the silence. He does not illuminate what cannot be illuminated, what does not take the light, what cannot retain it, for example between millions of propositions; that of thought, that of light, that of painting.

Marguerite Duras, 1980.