It’s dangerous to talk to an artist. Whatever you think of their art, after a conversation with them, you are bound to walk away intrigued, enchanted — maybe even disgusted (which isn’t necessarily bad) — but mostly, hopefully, enlightened by a new understanding of their work.

The new installation by Tadashi Kawamata had seemed modest at the opening of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo’s exhibition/retrospective of his work, especially in contrast to the photos of Kawamata’s ridiculous swirls of teetering timbers swarming over urban landscapes. In 1982, when Kawamata was still a 28-year-old student, he became the youngest Japanese artist to create a solo show for the country’s national pavilion at the Venice Biennale, the longest running of these major contemporary exhibitions that pop up in cities every two years.

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