Chu Enoki is a seminal figure in Japanese contemporary art renowned for his varied artistic practice, ranging from avant-garde public performances through to controversial and compelling sculptural works. Enoki’s first notable works were events he staged, including his 1977 pioneering performance and long-term project Going to Hungary with HANGARI, a piece reacting to the societal upheavals in Japan at the time in which Enoki, playing on the Japanese term hangari meaning ‘half-shaved’, removed all the hair from one side of his body. Much of Enoki’s more recent sculpture and installation works have been created from found objects such as deactivated weapons, ammunition and scrap metal. Using these materials he has produced sculptures of Kalashnikov and Colt guns, stunning futuristic cityscapes, and a series of functional cannons which he fires at performances to commemorate openings of exhibitions.
Despite having no formal art education, Enoki has continued to receive increasing attention from his work, albeit both from media and authorities, and his practice has inspired other prominent artists, such as Takashi Murakami who cites Enoki as a great influence. Although Enoki’s reputation was already established, there has been a recent resurgence of exhibitions evaluating Enoki’s contribution, consolidating his presence as a significant figure in contemporary Japanese art, including Roppongi Crossing, Mori Art Museum (2007) and Enoki Chu: Unleashing the Museum, Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art (2011).
On the special occasion of his first solo show in Europe, Chu Enoki: Enoki Chu held at the White Rainbow Gallery, London, Enoki has been invited to explain his artistic career and expression identified in his work often described as iconic and employing dark motifs. Drawing on his experience as an artist coming out of postwar Japan and living through drastic social changes over time, Enoki will also reflect on how such surroundings may have made an impact upon his practice and helped mould the artist he is today.
Enoki will be joined in conversation by Simon Grant, editor of TATE ETC. art magazine published by Tate and co-founder of the art quarterly Picpus.
9 February 2015
Banqueting Hall, Chelsea College of Arts
16 John Islip Street, London SW1P 4JU
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Image: SALUTE C2H2, Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, 2012-2013, © Chu Enoki, photo by Seiji Toyonaga (SANDWICH GRAPHIC) (part)