Katsuhiro Yamaguchi is a quintessential, 20th-century multimedia artist. Unlike great painters, who frequently share artistic characteristics with other painters, great multimedia artists plow lonelier furrows that haven’t been plowed before — and then quickly move on. This often leads, as in Yamaguchi’s case, to a restless quest for expression, and endless experimentation that sometimes seems pointless. But, although certain artworks on display, such as “Lighting Object Y” (1970), are less than impressive, the retrospective is enjoyable in its full sweep of Yamaguchi’s artistic odyssey. Luckily, the show spans the seven decades from the 1940s to the present and includes important collaborations with fellow members of the art group “Experimental Workshop.”
From small “cosmic” oils and watercolors, reminiscent of the dying embers of Surrealism, he moved on to his revolutionary ” Vitrines,” which placed corrugated panes of glass in front of abstract paintings to make the artwork appear to move. But even these highly successful works were not enough to hold him, and he constantly ventured after new forms of sculpture, ultimately relocating the ancient Japanese notion of the total art environment from the Zen garden to the trendy gallery via installations.
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