Following a short break in our exhibition programming, we are about to launch a new series of exhibitions that are not to be missed. First, we offer an opportunity to discover the work of Japanese-American artist Tadaaki Kuwayama (b. 1932), an icon of the neo-avant-garde who is regarded as one of the progenitors of minimal art. His work was last shown in Amsterdam in 1966, at the groundbreaking exhibition New Shapes of Color. This event, initiated by Edy de Wilde and realised by Wim Beeren, was the first museum exhibition of colour field painting and minimal art in the Netherlands. The work of Tadaaki Kuwayama and fellow minimalists Frank Stella and Donald Judd was among the most radical in the exhibition. Their impersonal and systematic art challenged what they saw as the classic aesthetic attitude. For this generation of artists, art as testimony to a unique process of genius was an outmoded notion. The wave of democratisation that occurred in the 1960s meshed seamlessly with their revolutionary idea that a work of art could be endlessly reproduced. This reality defines Kuwayama’s work.
In the recent work that we will be showing, Kuwayama demonstrates the continuing relevance of his fundamental examination of colour, material and spatiality. He has recently begun experimenting with unusual materials like bakelite and titanium, further exploring and expressing the idea of infinity and existence. The purity and factuality he strives for in his objects naturally finds resonance in the country that produced Mondrian. This international exhibition is our contribution to the centenary celebrations of the De Stijl movement, which was founded in Leiden in 1917.
Kuwayama is concerned not with specific properties of colour or material, but with a sense of infinity and incomprehensibility. Is it about the objects themselves, or about the perception of presence and spatiality they inspire? They appear cool and detached because our instinct is to look in the ‘classic’ way. But these objects invite the viewer to let go. The purity of conception and execution not only makes this art timeless, but also eternally relevant.