Two cryptic, potent objects from a show called “Requiem for the Sun: The Art of Mono-ha,” a collaboration between Gladstone Gallery in New York (where it is now on view) and Blum & Poe in Los Angeles. The piece on the left is titled “Phase-Sponge” and was conceived in 1968 by Nobuo Sekine, while the one on the right, from a year later, is called “Cut-off (hang)” and is by Katsuro Yoshida. (Both pieces at Gladstone are recent remakes, which is just fine by me.) These two artists were part of the radical Japanese movement called “Mono-ha” (“The School of Things”) dedicated to giving new power to simple materials and invisible forces, much as the Italian Arte Poverists were doing around the same time. Sekine’s piece, which is just (and unbelievably) a huge sponge holding up a massive steel plate, captures compression about as purely as anything could. Yoshida’s hanging piece does the same for tension. And it’s easy to read both as symbols of human predicaments.
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