Jiro Takamatsu (1936-1998)
Jiro Takamatsu (1936-1998)

Shadow No. 226

Details
Jiro Takamatsu (1936-1998)
Shadow No. 226
signed, numbered and dated 'JIRO TAKAMATSU 1968 NO. 226' (on the reverse)
acrylic, enamel and metal hook on board
33 x 24 x 8cm.
Executed in 1968
Provenance
Tokyo Gallery, Tokyo.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1968.

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Lisa Snijders
Lisa Snijders

Lot Essay

A hybrid of provoking Surrealist character and the refined visual aesthetic of Minimalism, Shadow No. 226 is an exquisite depiction of the serene yet commanding imagery that defines Jiro Takamatsu’s oeuvre. Painted in 1968, the same year as Jiro Takamatsu’s solo exhibition in the Japanese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Shadow No. 226 is a relatively early example of the artist’s enigmatic and renowned ‘Shadow Painting’ series. Beginning this critical enquiry in 1964 and pursuing until his death in 1998, the series investigates the formal underpinnings of painting through delicate depictions of shadows which later cemented as the artist’s signature style.

His imagery recalls the visually two-dimensional objects depicted in nineteenth-century Japanese paintings and woodcuts reinvented with contemporary motifs such as the key and hook. A dark grey silhouette morphs out from the austere setting behind, Shadow No. 226 is both aesthetically refined and atmospherically serene. However, this is not an authentic depiction of keys on a hook but rather the shadows these objects have cast onto the board, fracturing the established subject-object dialectic.

Citing both real-life shadows cast on paper-sliding doors in traditional domestic settings and the figural imprints left on walls after the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima as inspiration, Takamatsu combines antithetical sources, anticipating the visual contradictions inherent in this series. Engaging in the artist’s illusionary challenge, the viewer does not witness Shadow No. 226 as a present reality but as a projection of a reality from a source hidden to the eye or remnants of one that no longer exists. As the artist explained ‘I mean to free things from existing relations and turn them into subjects of new relations’. The subtle interplay between absence, the visible and invisible cements the ‘Shadow Paintings’ as individually and collectively profound.
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