Activation —  There: at Each Location , 1976 Maki Gallery, Tokyo. Photo: Yoshiteru Kawasaki 

Activation — There: at Each Location, 1976
Maki Gallery, Tokyo. Photo: Yoshiteru Kawasaki 

Kishio Suga is one of the most influential figures in the history of site-specific installation in Japan. Soon after his graduation from Tokyo’s Tama Art University in 1968, he began making ephemeral arrangements of natural and manmade materials in outdoor locations around Tokyo, a practice he later termed “fieldwork.” He simultaneously translated this activity into indoor environments, and quickly gained recognition for unprecedented installations such as Parallel Strata (1969), a totemic enclosure made of paraffin wax, and Soft Concrete (1970), four vertical steel plates arranged into a square and shored up with a mound of oil-infused concrete. 

These works situated him as part of a short-lived movement that later came to be known as Mono-ha (“School of Things”), whose artists took natural and industrial materials and arranged them in mostly unaltered states. Suga articulates his approach to mono (“things/materials”) as an ongoing investigation of "situation" and the "activation of existence," focusing as much on the interdependency of these various elements and the surrounding space as on the materials themselves. Suga has remade his installations on many occasions since the mid-1980s, when his work began to receive institutional recognition. Each time he adheres to the work's core concept but adapts its scale and constituent parts to the characteristics of the new site. 

Suga’s diverse practice includes assemblages and works on paper, which serve as concise examinations of the reality of mono. Similarly, in his performances, which he refers to as “Activations,” the artist gradually builds up a framework of material and spatial relationships only then to deconstruct it. Suga is also a prolific writer who has published three novels, one screenplay, and more than 150 essays.

Suga has had numerous solo exhibitions at international museums, most recently at Dia: Chelsea, New York (2016–17), Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (2016), and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2015). A re-creation of his iconic installation Law of Situation (1971) is currently on view at the 57th Venice Biennale (2017). Over the past four decades he has been featured in landmark exhibitions at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Punta della Dogana, Venice; and his work is included in many public and private collections.


Kishio Suga is represented by:
Blum & Poe, Los Angeles / New York / Tokyo
Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo / New York / Brussels
Tokyo Gallery, Tokyo / Beijing
Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo