Aki Kuroda - Exhibition at the Imperial City - China

The Imperial City Art Museum invites the Japanese painter Aki Kuroda. 

For all those hungry for culture in Beijing, the Imperial City Art Museum is a little gem. Along with a selection of contemporary Spanish paintings from the famous Caixa collection, the museum presents an exhibition by the Japanese painter Aki Kuroda.

The tensions between the two countries are not the artists' business. For Zhao Shulin, the curator of the exhibition, the invitation of the Japanese painter Aki Kuroda to the museum started from a simple impulse during his last exhibition in Beijing in November.

Born in Japan, Aki Kuroda has lived in France since 1970. Famous for his silhouettes and monochrome backgrounds, the painter is also renowned for his collective projects such as Cosmogarden, the first issue of which was presented at the Manufacture des Œillets in Ivry in 1997.

Painting, architecture, sculpture or video, the Cosmogarden is a walk where other artists and other artistic expressions are invited to participate. “I like the give and take,” explains Aki Kuroda. “the idea of ​​the Cosmogarden is to create a garden, like a city, that is to say a garden whose edges we do not see and of which we do not have an overall view, the difference from Zen gardens. But when you walk there you feel the shape and style of the garden, it’s not planned or rational.”

In Beijing, the artist took care to indicate on the poster that it was a personal exhibition. Yet his work is always on the lookout for this same conception of painting. Around sixty works, from the collection of the famous French Galerie Maeght, are on display.

“It is often said that pictorial art is dead and that everything has been done. If I take architecture, which is undoubtedly the icon of our time, it sometimes happens that the constructions are splendid but perfectly inhuman. We can't live in it. A painting can then contrast with a blank or a concrete wall and become like an airlock, a door open to the imagination, which goes beyond the programmed, rational and understandable side of the architectural project. This door, it seems to me, is the definition of painting.”

“Obviously, I have a connection to China. Like all Japanese and Chinese, our histories are mixed. The characters in particular are of Chinese origin. But I have never exhibited in display cases like archeology museums. This amuses me because I have never seen my painting in such a space, it puts distance and gives me a certain objectivity towards it.”

This surprise reflects what the painter perceived of Chinese aesthetics, which he subtly describes as baroque.

“This city is gigantic. Faced with the grandeur of the towers, Western or Japanese criteria do not work. Besides, even now I don’t understand” adds Aki Kuroda. “But I’m not surprised that Chinese painting is figurative and not abstract for the most part. Faced with the world of buildings, the lines, the mathematical side, it is the intimate, the interiority that resists.”

And in fact, the museum serves as a protected place, a stone's throw from the forbidden city, nestled in traditional-looking houses whose ceiling heights do not exceed three meters.

Beijing Art Museum of Imperial City

Published on 08/20/2007 by Frédérique Zingaro