beat takeshi kitano
 
beat takeshi kitano
mar 28, 2010

beat takeshi kitano

beat takeshi kitano, gosse de peintre fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain, paris march 11 to september 12, 2010

view of the exhibition: installation that examines the extinction of the dinosaurs. © office kitano inc. photo yoshinaga yasuaki courtesy fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain

takeshi kitano (also known as beat takeshi) has thrown himself into ‘gosse de peintre’, an unusual project that subtly alights in the realm of childhood. this site-specific exhibition has been entirely created by the filmmaker, actor, TV presenter,comedian, painter…and writer, for the fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain. with paintings and videos, bizarre objects and settings, whimsical and fantastic machines, kitano leads the visitor through surprises, gags and games, all the while mocking contemporary art, experimenting with the sciences and toying with clichés associated with his country, japan. irrepressibly curious, passionate about the acquisition and passing on of knowledge, he adroitly switches genres and idioms, moving from violence to comedy, from over-the-top performances to deeply restrained ones.

the artist has transformed the museum into an amusement park in which all the worlds of beat takeshi kitano take center stage. popular culture and scientific inquiry, the imaginary and the satirical, tradition and education, the beautiful and the kitsch, all co-exist in a setting that is at once diverse and cohesive.

this first exhibition of beat takeshi kitano is one of the most ambitious projects ever created for the fondation cartier. it is designed for children, but speaks to adults. with gosse de peintre, kitano takes children seriously and invites them to think, to dream and to join the show. workshops and guided tours for children and families are offered to the public. curator is isabelle gaudefroy.

beat takeshi kitano sketch of the exhibition setting © office kitano inc. photo yoshinaga yasuaki courtesy fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain

while this insatiable artist finds inspiration everywhere, two leitmotifs occur frequently in his work: his fascination and nostalgia for childhood, and his relationship with the image, which is fundamental to his creative approach. this passion for the image is also evidenced by a prolific output of paintings, many of which appear in his films. reluctant to institutionalize his artwork, which he deems essentially a private endeavor, kitano has never submitted to the numerous requests of museums to exhibit his work. his decision to accept the fondation cartier’s invitation resulted from meeting with its director, hervé chandès, and their numerous discussions during which arose the idea of a site-specific exhibition geared toward children, designed as one gigantic installation.

beat takeshi kitano ‘dharma’ © office kitano inc. photo yoshinaga yasuaki courtesy fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain

very popular in japan, these lucky charms are named after the founder of zen, ‘bodhidharma’, who, having meditated for nine years while facing a wall, saw his legs and arms atrophy. conventionally, these japanese figurines are red and their eyes remain unpainted, allowing those who buy the charms first to make a wish while painting the left eye and once the wish is granted, finish by painting the right eye.

beat takeshi kitano view of the exhibition © office kitano inc. photo yoshinaga yasuaki courtesy fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain

‘my attitude to art in general, and to contemporary art in particular, is that it doesn’t have to be serious. I want people who come to see my installations to just relax and enjoy, to have as much fun as I did when I created them. more than visitors at an exhibition, I want them to be participants. why not have fun? with this exhibition, I was attempting to expand the definition of ‘art’, to make it less conventional, less snobby, more casual and accessible to everyone.‘ – B.T.K.

excerpt from the interview with beat takeshi kitano by michel temman, published in the exhibition catalog

beat takeshi kitano view of the exhibition. the entire ground floor is surmounted by three large rings that support some two hundred figurines called ‘dharma’, who seem to be looking over the visitors and the exhibition. © office kitano inc. photo yoshinaga yasuaki courtesy fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain

modern science reveals the truth about dinosaur extinction: ‘if you watch TV programs on this subject, for instance, on the discovery channel, they try to give you detailed scientific explanations as to why the dinosaurs disappeared. they usually say that a meteorite hit the earth, that the temperature of the planet dropped, and this caused the dinosaurs to die out. but I offer a different, comic version. those dinosaurs had short arms, which probably made it hard for them to wipe their behinds. and so the hypothesis is that their disappearance was due to the lack of hygiene in their environment!‘ – B.T.K.

on the lower level, there is a dinosaur painting workshop where the visitor can imagine the original colors of these now extinct creatures. using a paint gun, the lucky lottery winners (a small sticker on your entry ticket indicates whether you’ve won) get to color the dinosaurs however inspiration may lead.

beat takeshi kitano view of the exhibition: the kitano sewing machine ‘hideyoshi’ © office kitano inc. photo yoshinaga yasuaki courtesy fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain

grandly seated in the middle of the room, a gigantic, clattering, laughably inefficient sewing machine serves as an ironic metaphor for contemporary art. the sewing machine is entitled ‘hideyoshi’ – toyotomi hideyoshi is the name of a 16th-century japanese warlord who unified the country following a century of upheaval.

there is a series of chimaeras which kitano has imagined, grotesque hybridized animal parts,  sometimes combined with human parts or machinery.

beat takeshi kitano chameleon-motorbike © office kitano inc. photo yoshinaga yasuaki courtesy fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain

beat takeshi kitano hippopotamus-ranchu, 2010 © office kitano inc. photo yoshinaga yasuaki courtesy fondation cartier pour l’art contemporainbeat takeshi kitano elephant – gun, 2010 © office kitano inc. photo yoshinaga yasuaki courtesy fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain

beat takeshi kitano drawing of more chimaeras © office kitano inc. photo yoshinaga yasuaki courtesy fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain

beat takeshi kitano drawing of tama-jii  and kon-tan © office kitano inc. photo yoshinaga yasuaki courtesy fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain

in a shed in the garden tama-jii and kon-tan depicts the two opposing spirits found in all humans and all trees. embodying the positive side of the human soul, ‘tama-jii’ is a portmanteau word coined by kitano composed of tamashii (spirit or soul) and jii (old man). kon-tan (schemer) embodies the negative side of the human soul. in humans, kon-tan is situated near the intestines and tama-jii near the heart. in trees, the former withers the branch in which it lives, whereas the latter fortifies it.

beat takeshi kitano ‘tama-jii’ © office kitano inc. photo yoshinaga yasuaki courtesy fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain

the exhibition also presents a large collection of beat takeshi kitano’s paintings, presented here for the first time. despite his prodigious output, beat takeshi kitano considers himself an amateur painter. for him, painting is as much a writing implement as it is an outlet. figurative, even narrative in style, the twenty-four paintings, some of which were produced for this exhibition, seemto explode in colors and are reminiscent of naïve art.

beat takeshi kitano painting, 2009 © office kitano inc. photo yoshinaga yasuaki courtesy fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain

beat takeshi kitano painting, 2009 © office kitano inc. photo yoshinaga yasuaki courtesy fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain

beat takeshi kitano painting, 2009 © office kitano inc. photo yoshinaga yasuaki courtesy fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain

beat takeshi kitano poster of the exhibition © office kitano inc. photo yoshinaga yasuaki courtesy fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain

beat takeshi kitano ‘who are you who is looking at me?!’ © office kitano inc. photo yoshinaga yasuaki courtesy fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain

‘who are you who is looking at me?!’ – this ‘self-portrait with brain’ hints at the spirit of the exhibition, a veritable journey into the heart of kitano’s imaginary world. following his 1994 motorcycle accident, kitano refused to have a craniotomy.

‘it’s true that if my surgeon sees these paintings, he’ll probably think he should have operated on me right away!‘ – BTK

beat takeshi kitano beat takeshi kitano portrait  © office kitano inc courtesy fondation cartier pour l’art contemporain

takeshi kitano born in japan in 1947, takeshi kitano is a well-known filmmaker whose works include sonatine (1993, critics award at the cognac festival du film policier), hana-bi (1997, golden lion award at the venice film festival), and zatôichi (2003, silver lion award at the venice film festival). he also works in japan presenting eight weekly television shows.

  • very good filmaker…very bad artist.

    maciste says:
  • @maciste

    I can’t agree with your comment on his art.

    ‘Beat Takashi’ has been about and continues to learn, evolve and strive for a creativity borne of others efforts.

    He has many fantastic works that you may not of seen that show he is willing to learn through development and trial via a multitude of disciplines.

    He is a rare artist in that he does not espouse to be the best.. he sets about learning how other greats have executed and refined their style/s & employs those disciplines to his own learning.

    The hardest challenge of all. He lives to evolve his art not to take just kudos.

    His movies are also very direct.. his art can sometimes involve more subtle metaphors.

    #Boxomonks says:
  • WHY IS HE TRYING TO ACT LIKE AN CRAZY ARTIST ???
    (NO BAD & GOOD MEANING)

    WHY ???

    SEOULISH says:
  • Loved his paintings in Hana-Bi!

    Christopher says:
  • per boxomonks

    I agree whit you… he lives to evolve his art not to take just kudos….but when he does that through disciplines different than cinema results is so mediocre…
    that’s all.

    maciste says:

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