Tadashi Kawamata is a Japanese visual artist who was born in 1953 on the island of Hokkaido. Nowadays, he lives and works in Tokyo and Paris.
He very quickly made a name for himself on both the Japanese and international artistic scene. Already, at the age of 28, as a young graduate of the Tokyo Fine Arts University, he was invited to the Japanese Pavilion at the 1982 Venice Biennale. From then on, he has been involved in work all over the world, creating architectural projects, which always fit in perfectly with the site they adorn.
His work provides a reflection on social context and human relations. When he installed shelters made of recycled materials (wood, cardboard) on the outskirts of the cities of Montreal, New York or Tokyo, he was making references to shantytowns and the homeless. In Alkmaar, it was people with social problems who were associated with a walkway project, linking the community reintegration centre to the city. In all his projects, the artist surrounds himself with students, local inhabitants and groups who get involved in setting up and creating the work.
Urban planning issues are the basis of his work. Building or demolition sites, intermediate areas that survive in the urban space are taken over by the artist who uses the materials already on the site for his constructions, by “recycling” them (chairs, boats, scaffolding). Thus, in Kassel, it was a ruined church, destroyed by the Second World War and neglected when the city was rebuilt, which he gave back to the citizens at the time of Documenta VIII in 1987. Time, as an indicator of the greatness or decline of a building or a site, is a key element in his work.
His interventions recreate bridges between past and present, revealing the emotional side of things which cannot be seen, but also their material reality. Sharing work and reflecting on the living community, which brings life to each of his projects and is their foundation, encourage the awakening of this memory.
Tadashi Kawamata is represented by: Kamel Mennour Gallery, Paris.