HAPPENINGText: Alma Reyes

In another room designed with patches of black washi paper, Calder’s sculptures and paintings stand as chromatic contrasts of red, yellow and blue — colors inspired from Mondrian. The striking red and black Sword Plant (1947) depicts two katana swords, like lifted from a duel scene of Musashi Miyamoto in the 17th century. The objects consist of pierced holes, describing absence and negative space.

Installation view of room with washi paper, Calder: Un effet du japonais, Azabudai Hills Gallery, Photo: Tadayuki Minamoto

The polychrome mobile Untitled (1956) hangs in the hall of white walls, and suggests Calder’s inclination towards disparity. Black and white are the major colors, contradicted by red, yellow and blue plates in unequilateral positions. Calder remarked, “Anything suggestive of symmetry is decidedly undesirable, except possibly where an approximation of symmetry is used in a detail to enhance the inequality with the general scheme.”

Alexander Calder, Untitled, 1956 © Calder Foundation, New York

His paintings imbue strong references to Russian artists Kazumi Malevich and Wassily Kandinsky, as well as American abstraction artists, such as Arthur Dove. The oil works Pinwheel and Flow (1958) and São Paulo (1955) are just some of the examples that characterize spontaneity, asymmetry and energy. 

Installation view of Calder: Un effet du japonais, Azabudai Hills Gallery, Photo: Tadayuki Minamoto

Calder’s art lifts us to a lofty degree of an animated experience that can be emotional, but non-objective. We explore such a state in this exhibition as we rove our eyes from the floor, walls and ceilings in awe. As the artist claimed, “This has no utility and no meaning. It is simply beautiful. It has a great emotional effect if you understand it. Of course if it meant anything it would be easier to understand, but it would not be worthwhile.”

Calder: Un effet du japonais
Date: May 30th – September 6th, 2024
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 18:00 (Friday, Saturday, Day before a Public Holiday till 20:00)
Closed on August 6th
Place: Azabudai Hills Gallery
Address: Azabudai Hills Garden Plaza A MBF, 1-3-1 Azabudai, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel: +81 (0)3 6402 5460
Organizer: Azabudai Hills Gallery in collaboration with Pace Gallery
Curated by: Alexander S. C. Rower (President of the Calder Foundation)
Exhibition design: Stephanie Goto Architecture

Text: Alma Reyes
All works by Alexander Calder
All photos courtesy of Calder Foundation, New York / Art Resource, New York © 2024 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS). New York

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