Kamel Mennour

Tadashi Kawamata

Maquettes 1983-2015

12 Sep - 10 Oct 2015

View of the exhibition “Maquettes 1983-2015”, kamel mennour (6 rue du Pont de Lodi), Paris, 2015
© Tadashi Kawamata
Photo. Fabrice Seixas
Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour, Paris
Maquettes 1983-2015
12 September - 10 October 2015

I’ve never considered my work as either sculpture or installation, it’s not what I’m interested in (...). I always say to myself that I’m ‘in-between’, I prefer this floating category, I’m in-between architecture and sculpture, or in-between architecture and the environment. [1]

[1] Interview with Frederic Migayrou in Kawamata, catalogue, Atelier Calder, Orléans; CCC, Tours, 1994, p. 112

In Tadashi Kawamata’s studio, you will find paper cutouts alongside maquettes, constructions made out of cardboard together with scavenged objects. Kawamata works alone on his maquettes, and if his spectacular and monumental interventions are conceived in a spirit of participation, this initial period of introspection is just as important in his work as the later stage of construction. He works with immense concentration, tirelessly searching for inspiration and meditation. Kawamata always reserves a decisive part of the production process for his maquettes, which he sees as veritable microcosms of the world, of his world.

Freed from the bounds of rules and models, his maquettes are nonetheless underpinned by the same mechanisms as produce his built works. With their variations in scale and material, they illustrate his methods, his systems for construction, the way he plays with assembling forms from scrap materials. They also reflect his acute sense of the ephemeral, his ongoing desire to transform existing pieces of architecture, to dissolve the boundary between inside and outside, between public and private. At once models for thought, tools for exploration, and imaginary landscapes, the maquettes bring us into the heart of his practice and show us his ideological and aesthetic aspirations.

This ‘movement that creates another, and then another’ breathes disorder into the order of the ready-built, and demonstrates in a spectacular manner the artist’s refusal of all fixed situations. Considerations about when a work is finished or unfinished enter into none of his constructions; it is their potential for being acted upon and acting upon the space that alone is allowed to determine how they develop.

The maquette could also be the copy of a copy, the reproduction of an imagined real. There is something mysterious about the Bruges Tree Huts, these little houses in the air inviting you to escape from reality. Clearly, each hut is also a poetic object, a short form, a suspended, architectural haiku. They become sculptures without ever losing their character as shelter, as hideaway.

Kawamata endlessly blurs the boundaries between the represented object and the constructed object. He creates houses that look like maquettes and maquettes that look like drawings. In their tangled play, all of them attest to the complex and proliferating economy of his studio work, but also to his back-and-forth between solitary and collective making, between his imaginary world and real space.

Mouna Mekouar
1 Marie-Ange Brayer, « Kawamata : Constructions Nomades », Kawamata, catalogue, Atelier Calder, Orléans ; CCC, Tours, 1994, p. 8.

Born in 1953 in Hokkaido, Japan, Tadashi Kawamata lives and works in Tokyo and Paris.
His work has been exhibited worlwide, including at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the HKW in Berlin, the Art Tower Mito in Mito, the Serpentine Gallery in London, the Art Pace Foundation for Contemporary Art in San Antonio, the MACBA in Barcelona. he also participated at several biennales such as the Venice Biennale (1982), the Documenta VIII and IX (1987-1992), the international Biennale in São Paulo (1987), the Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon (1993), the Münster Skulptur Projekte (1997), the Sydney Biennale (1998), the Art Focus Biennale in Jérusalem (1999), the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale in Niigata (2000), the Shanghai Biennale, the Busan Biennale (2002), the Valence Biennale (2004), the Melle Biennale (2009) and the Evento Biennale in Bordeaux (2009).

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