A founding member of the Japanese art movement Mono-ha, Kishio Suga was born in Morioka, Japan, in 1944 and currently lives and works in Ito City, Japan. Suga’s first solo museum show in the United States, which he discusses below, is on view at Dia:Chelsea in New York through July 29, 2017.
AT FIRST, Dia requested a past work, but when I saw the space, a former marble-cutting factory, I felt that I wanted to do something new. I imagined a show of work that would contend with the height of the tall ceiling—something not flat, but three-dimensional and solid. I think there is a profound difference between the conditions of something at rest versus something that is upright, even if it is the same object.
For instance, when a tree in a meadow stands upright, there is no upper limit. Trees are directed toward a limitless place. I’m interested in this natural condition. If I were to set a limit to it, I would suppress this verticality with something horizontal—with pressure. This pressure is something I explored in this show.
I am also very conscious of how things are connected through some kind of ground. The things above possess a certain system in some form, even if it happens to not be visible. One can imagine such a system, even if it is not perceptible. My work attempts to make this system visible.
I don’t usually think of symbolic things when I’m working. I think more literally of things concretely piling up, one on top of another. When they are piled into this kind of space, there is a limit, especially since natural stones I used in this show are uneven. In order to have them stand up, it was necessary to secure them, so the wall of the building and many other things started to become necessary.
Of course, I could have worked with rope or a softer material. For example, I could have tied ropes, and I could continue to tie them. However, for this show, I wanted to work with variously sized objects. When things are uneven, that needs to be made evident. There is also the problem of size. So, I thought about how to unify the unevenness as a whole and make it one.