Critics’ Picks

Yuki Okumura, Study for Hisachika Takahashi in Israel, 2016, scanned and photoshopped cutout book page, 6 1/2 x 9".

Yuki Okumura, Study for Hisachika Takahashi in Israel, 2016, scanned and photoshopped cutout book page, 6 1/2 x 9".


“Hisachika Takahashi by Yuki Okumura”

Maison Hermès Ginza
5 Chome-4-1 Ginza 8F
June 4–September 4, 2016

After reading a blog post from curator Daniel Baumann titled “Who Is Hisachika Takahashi?,” Yuki Okumura set out to find the answer. The multimedia artist, born 1978 in Aomori, Japan, now based between cities in Western Europe, researched and eventually met with Takahashi, born in 1940, a former technician to Lucio Fontana and Robert Rauschenberg. The meeting led to Okumura and Takahashi working together. Both artists’ practices often employ collaboration to develop ideas concerning identity and memory. This exhibition constantly approaches but never quite answers the question of Baumann’s post. We learn about Takahashi but always through his collaborations and Okumura’s curatorial frame.

Throughout, new works by Okumura—playing on several by Takahashi as well as photographic documentation of him—are displayed alongside that artist’s old and newer output. Included is a series of US maps drawn from memory by the likes of Joseph Kosuth and Jasper Johns (From Memory, Draw a Map of the United States, 1971–72). For another playful work, Takahashi cut and sculpted the metal of a dried can of International Klein Blue paint, discovered in Klein’s former studio, into a bird—giving the cylindrical mass a set of wings. In a series of images opposite titled Hisachika Takahashi in Israel, 2016, Okamura, referencing Rauschenberg’s Erased de Kooning Drawing, 1953, has rubbed out all but Takahashi’s figure from photographs documenting his time working as Rauschenberg’s assistant in Israel. Takahashi in these images thus overshadows his famous employer.

Central to the exhibition is a video in which Baumann interviews Okumura, who plays the role of the older artist and relates stories from his life. Okumura’s interview and works interfere with and recontextualize Takahashi’s oeuvre, extending collaborative processes latent in the latter’s practice. Authorship, transience, and recollection emerge as themes from the various identity-obscuring works.