YUTAKA SONE MOVIE THEATRE
06.03 – 30.04.22
During the first wave of early 2020, Yutaka Sone was working in Tokyo while in quarantine with his wife Hiromi Sone. During this time, he made the artist book Perfect Moment.
The story of Perfect Moment depicts an artist who is setting up a system that considers different variables to calculate the percentage to the “perfect moment”—a moment when an amusement park as a whole reaches its highest point of excitement. Even the wait lines, the weather, the number of flowers in bloom are taken into consideration. The artist is informed about the situation on his smartwatch, while his assistants are monitoring the amusement park from a control tower. However, when the probability of the “perfect moment” reaches 98%, the artists is still celebrating at a local bar. He dashes out, only to collapse on his way to the amusement park.
When the artist wakes up to the sound of his wife vacuum cleaning, he is in an existential crisis regarding his identity as an artist. He is sobbing in the basement until a pencil rolls down, and touches his hand. At that moment, the artist decides he will get himself together and start a large new drawing, big enough to convince his gallerist to hold a “Perfect Moment” exhibition.
Two years later, when international travel has become slightly easier after the 5th wave, the artist arrives in Antwerp following a short stay in Los Angeles. With a very tight deadline, Sone decides he will make a full solo show from scratch and by using only his pencil and paper.
The resulting exhibition, Yutaka Sone: Movie Theatre, shows four new “storyboard” drawings, where the artist recollects and processes his memories of the four main long-term projects he has realised in the past 7 years.
Pearl 55 depicts the story of the making of a large-scale snow leopard sculpture in the artist’s studio in Takamatsu, Japan.
Snow Leopard in China shows the completion of the giant outdoor sculpture Snow Leopard Garden, just outside of the main museum building of Sifang Art Museum in Nanjing.
Tropical Composition goes into the making of one of the artist‘s Tropical Compositions, a painted rattan-woven palm tree, made in the artist’s studio in Mexico. The storyboard starts with the artist and his assistants visiting the mythical island in Lake Pâtzcuaro in the Michoacân region. The artist has a fascination for the 16th century writings of a Franciscan friar who wrote down the oral history of the region by interviewing the local inhabitants. Sone read the Japanese translation of Relación de Michoacan, which was initially translated from medieval Spanish into French by J. M. G. Le Clézio. The production of the Tropical Composition continues today in Guadalajara, Mexico‘s second largest city, by Pablo Bravo, Sone‘s long time studio director and collaborator.
For Black Cave, the most recent drawing of the series, Sone visited the marble quarry of Mazy in Belgium, famous for exploiting the blackest marble in the world. Different then with the previous storyboards, the artist uses the process of drawing as a catalyst for the development of a new idea for a marble sculpture. Based on his visit and on the knowledge of the local mine workers, his intention is to make a sculpture of the inside of the mine, by using the mines own marble.
The drawings are a continuation of a body of work started in 1996, when the artist made four “storyboards” for an exhibition in Tokyo. Three of these drawings are now in public collections in Japan, and the fourth piece, Storyboard for Night Bus, is on display in the current exhibition.
In 1997, the installation Birthday Party was exhibited for the first time at the fourth Sculpture Projects Münster exhibition in Germany, and made Sone world-renowned. In the video, Sone celebrates his own birthday every day with a variety of people that he encounters in the city of Munster. He recorded people singing birthday songs and him blowing out the candles on the cake. He then played the edited 22-minute video on a monitor placed in the underground passageway in front of Münster’s Central Station. Daring to show a private video in a public place, the exhibit challenged the traditional relationship between the individual and society. Sculpture Projects in Münster is an international sculpture exhibition, but the artist told project director Kasper König that to him video works are sculptures. The artist wanted to make a ’sculpture’ of a humble personal history, of the joyful memory that everyone has of celebrating his birth into this world—to make a ’sculpture‘ of shapeless memory and light. This presents a new perspective on society and public places, a new way of seeing things, an approach that is a consistent theme in Sone’s work. Three days before the opening of this exhibition —on the occasion of the artists‘ birthday—a birthday party was held at the gallery, as the latest addition to the artists’ ungoing sculpture project.
Also in the exhibition are the marble sculpture Movie Theatre, a work from the artists Amusement series, and Snowballs, the artist‘s first ceramic work. Movie Theatre combines the artist’s fascination for “amusement” structures, and his ongoing research of the depiction of light, as well as darkness, using the medium of stone.
For Snowballs, Sone started a collaboration with the Taiwanese ceramics company Franz. At a meeting in 2018, the artist presented the president of Franz with a series of papier-maché snowballs. The president then immediately called his developers at the company, ordering them to go the top of Mount Yu (”ball mountain”), where they could readily study snow in the pacific country. There, they touched the snow, and observed how it reflects the sun light, and investigated the relationship between the snowflake size/density and hues of the snowballs.
The name Mount Yu, or Jade Mountain derives from its appearance in winter, when its thick snow cover makes its peak look like stainless white jade. Mount Yu is the highest mountain in Taiwan at 3,952m above sea level.
During the Japanese dependency of Taiwan, after the first Sino-Japanese war in 1895, Mount Yu was also known as “Niitaka Mountain”. Almost 50 years later “Climb Mount Niitaka”, sent on Dec. 2, 1941, was the coded signal that Japan had made the decision to go to war.
In 1997 and 1998 Yutaka Sone made the marble sculpture “Hong Kong Island”. When asked by a chinese official what his intention was, the artist answered “because it’s pretty”. Showing ceramic snowballs in collaboration with a Taiwanese craftmanship company in 2022 might be just as “pretty”.
On the occasion of the exhibition, the 78 drawings of Perfect Moment were published as a hardcover artist book, numbered, and signed by the artist.