Art is like the sun. The sun provides limitless light and heat. Even if you have been sunbathing, the sun doesn’t put out its hand and say, ‘Hey, that was lovely and warm, how about giving me some money?’ does it?
Art is like the sun. That is what Tarō Okamoto thought.
This was based on his belief that ‘art belongs to the people.’
Art does not belong solely to a small group of snobs or those with great wealth. It belongs to the common people, to those who have to struggle against various contradictions and difficulties in the course of their daily lives; it is in ordinary life like this that art comes into its own.
This philosophy is what drove Tarō to produce public art. He left lots of works in public spaces where they are always accessible to everyone. Sculptures, murals, reliefs, memorials, clocks, plazas, temple bells, fireplaces…even if we only count his major works, there are several dozen, with a wide range of variations on each, and more than a few of them break with the accepted concept of art.
Okamoto’s public art plays such a crucial role that is impossible to discuss his oeuvre without reference to it.
For this exhibition we welcome as guest curator, Hiroshi Ōsugi, of the Kawasaki Tarō Okamoto Museum of Art, to help us think about the ‘Art of the Sun’.
Akiomi Hirano, Director,
Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum
Tarō Okamoto thought that art should be available to all, that it should be shared by everybody in the same way that the sun is and he left numerous works that question the nature of art. This is a common theme that runs through his work, like an anthem to the indomitable life of humanity. To him, art was not something special, it was life itself, and he believed that the fact that art had value was proud proof of this. He continued to refuse to sell his work and in the background of his rejection of art being valued solely for its uniqueness, was his ideal that art should be taken back from its owners, connoisseurs or researchers, and given to the ordinary people, reverting it to its original form.
This concept of public art can be seen in over 140 works in 70 locations throughout Japan alone. These repudiate simple accommodation with the space, but exist in the people’s daily lives, providing laughter, which is the energy of life. These works that were created for the public can be said to represent the pinnacle of expression that Tarō Okamoto achieved during his career as an artist.
This exhibition focuses on Tarō Okamoto’s works of public art, the message they embody offering us the opportunity to reconsider the arts role in life. Human history is a story of confrontation with nature, it speaks of the power of people who overcame tragedy to create the world we live in today, of life that chooses to live in beauty despite misunderstanding and of the drama of the love between man and woman, providing a hint that is directly linked to our lives, and allowing us to experience the joy of life.
Curator: Tarō Okamoto Museum of Art, Kawasaki.
Honorary Researcher: Tarō Okamoto Memorial Museum
Curation: Hiroshi Ōsugi
Cooperation: Tarō Okamoto Museum of Art, Kawasaki