Walking along the sophisticated streets of Saville Row where humanity hurries from one grey interior to the next, one does not expect to walk through the doors of Hauser & Wirth for their eyes to be transformed into those of a child. The vivid green that curator Oliver Renaud Clément has used to backdrop the most recent show of Tetsumi Kudo’s work, turns the conventional white gallery space into one big installation, merging all pieces together into a playground of diverse colour and absurdity.
This AstroTurf installation evokes the desire to interact, all Kudo’s works in this exhibition are so physical and playful in their execution it is hard to resist the urge to touch and play in this space. These feelings are very much internalised by the static silence of the transformed gallery, forcing quiet contemplation of the works whilst suppressing the urge to gallop and giggle. This is quite relevant as Kudo’s work focuses on these tensions created between nature and the man made. The melting plastic flowers in his artificial gardens signify the artists realisation that “with the pollution of nature comes the decomposition of humanity” whilst simultaneously talking about humanity’s morphing relationship with technology and mass production.
There are several sections in this exhibition, from these free standing gardens where man made materials morph to create rows of bonsai trees mixed with phallic forms, to Perspex structures that home artificial eco systems, and oversized dice that contain melting parts of humanity. Each series presented here imagines a post-apocalyptic world where a nuclear attack has cultivated an unrecognisably synthetic nature caused by humanity’s negligence.
Kudo’s use of boxes demonstrates the way we live our contemporary lives, how we rely on architectural interiors that simultaneously protect and trap us. In these interiors we stare at electronic boxes that transport us into artificial worlds of colour that help us to forget the reality of nature, much like the way that this exhibition lets us forget about the cold streets and suits just beyond the windows of Hauser & Wirth. Kudo’s regular use of dice presents natural systems of chance but contrasted with the artificial colours used to realise these boxes we may begin to think about the absurdity of humanity’s ever growing fixation with dominating chance in order to adapt nature to benefit our own unforgiving agendas.
Growing up in post-war Japan Kudo understood the brutal reality of humanity’s conceivable evil, and later moving to Paris he was struck by Europe’s ‘’Individualist outlook and eager adoption of mass production.” Ultimately this show of Kudo’s political but still highly aesthetic work, although made 50-40 years ago, seems even more relevant today. In this contemporary society even more dominated by technology then it was in Kudo’s time this exhibition gives space to reflect on our own claustrophobic lives where we naïvely believe we can survive inside these aesthetic simulated worlds that we hold on to so tightly.