On 24 November, White Rainbow gallery will open first of two presentations of the photographic work by Shigeo Anzaï (b.1939).
The two exhibitions, Index I (25 November 2015 – 23 January 2016) and Index II (17 May – 25 June 2016), will each present a different facet to his practice. Index I will focus on Anzaï’s role as a witness to the landmark exhibitions, events and happenings of the avant-garde in Japan 1970–6, including rare installation shots of the 10th Tokyo Biennale (1970). Index II will showcase his portraits of celebrated artists over his long career.
Anzaï’s photographs are not just records of historical importance, but also serve as valuable documentation of the artists themselves, their performances and their work processes. His detailed recordings of the Japanese art scene led to a largescale solo exhibition, Personal Photo Archives, held at the National Art Center, Tokyo in 2007.
Shigeo Anzaï’s involvement with contemporary art began in the 1960s. After studying applied chemistry and obtaining a job at a research lab, Anzaï began teaching himself about contemporary art, producing paintings and exhibiting them at solo and group shows. He was thirty when he first picked up a camera and began the oeuvre of
work he has since become known for. Whilst working for the 10th Tokyo Biennale ‘70, he was appointed by renowned critic Yusuke Nakahara to assist Carl Andre, Daniel Buren, and Richard Serra. Anzaï began documenting their works, coming into contact with new forms of art from around the world. He established himself as the foremost photographer of Mono-ha, a movement that emerged in Tokyo in the mid-1960s whose artists explored the interdependency of natural and industrial materials, creating work that was often ephemeral.
In 1978 Anzaï received a fellowship allowing him to live in New York for a year. During this time he documented the American contemporary art scene; photographing performances in gallery space The Kitchen where he established relationships with Bill Viola, Laurie Anderson and other emerging artists of the time. After New York he would travel to document exhibitions such as Documenta in Kassel and the Biennale in Venice.
Index I will look at Anzaï’s documentation of artwork. These are frequently ephemeral works: performances, happenings and installations, many of which survive today only through reconstructions, or in his photographs. Anzaï’s work allows them to be seen within their original context. His images can be described as an index of recent Japanese art history, and where it encountered or was exposed to international movements.
Index II will focus on Anzaï’s deep respect for and fascination with the creators of these artworks. His unprecedented access to these artists from the 10th Biennale onwards enabled him to capture highly personal portraits, producing revealing images of Joseph Beuys, Gilbert & George, Richard Serra, and more.
47 Mortimer Street
London W1W 8HJ
18 November 2015 to 23 January 2016
& by appointment