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(Kariya, 1933 – New-York, 2014)

Born in Kariya, Japan, in 1932, On Kawara grew up in an intellectual community marked by a cultural and religious diversity, including Shinto, Buddhist and Christian references. He was only 13 years old when World War II ended with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which profoundly affected his early works, the Tanatophanies. In 1951, Kawara left his hometown and moved to Tokyo where he studied European philosophy, politics and psychoanalytic theory. He quickly became an important figure in the Tokyo avant-garde and decided to move to Mexico City to start a new life.

Kawara lived 4 years in Mexico, country in which he became aware of the vagaries of time and people, aspects that are almost non-existent in Japan, where everything seems to be defined by tradition, planned and scheduled in advance. In 1963, Kawara visited the prehistoric cave of Altamira in Spain, and was visually shocked; then he decided to develop a radical art, which brought him closer to conceptual art.

On Kawara moved to New York in 1964 where he explored this world of ideas, with a particular interest in language and writing. On January 4, 1966, he began his series of Date Paintings, red, blue or gray monochromes in which he meticulously inscribed the day’s date in white. He also began the Today series, chronicling the passage of time. These series will be the subject of more than a thousand paintings spread over more than 130 places around the world.

Between 1968 and 1979, Kawara produced three more series that took the form of recordings of his daily life. For ‘I Got Up’, Kawara sends postcards to his friends, mentioning only the time he woke up that day. In ‘I Met’, he lists the people he meets each day. And the series ‘I Went’ is a form of archive of his comings and goings in the city on maps.
The result is a precise network of information, both intimate and impersonal, based on space-time, neutrality and detachment. In the background, Kawara nevertheless weaves a detailed autobiography of his existence.
In the series ‘I Am Still Alive’ (1970-2000), he sends telegrams, messages and then tweets to his friends and colleagues to let them know that he is still alive, thus emphasizing, with humor, the notion of the vulnerability of each individual.

I GOT UP AT 2:18 P.M., 1978
Épreuve photomécanique sur carte postale timbrée et affranchie
9 x 14 cm


Copyright Galerie Dina Vierny 2017