Simon Fujiwara: Since 1982
Tate St Ives, Cornwall
18 January – 7 May 2012
Tate St Ives presents the first major exhibition in the UK of the work of Simon Fujiwara (b 1982). Fujiwara is a young British/Japanese artist who has been building a strong reputation over the last few years with a string of acclaimed projects around the world. Since 1982 includes six new works created especially for Tate St Ives.
Through installation, performance and writing, Fujiwara draws on his biography as a starting point for a research-based practice, creating engaging and sometimes challenging stories that mix fact and fiction to compelling and powerful effect.
The artist fuses the private sphere with the social realm, blurring reality and storytelling to create a drama in which he plays the roles of multiple characters: anthropologist, novelist, and tourist, among others. His quasi-ethnographic approach ‘in which he employs techniques of excavation and display’ brings together both artefacts and memories to produce alternate readings of personal, cultural and political histories.
Fujiwara grew up in Carbis Bay, just a mile from St Ives, and his recent projects have increasingly explored his childhood experiences in Cornwall. Given this unique context, the exhibition is presented as a kind of ‘return home of the prodigal son’. In addition, Fujiwara integrates key works from the Tate Collection alongside within his installations, including paintings by Alfred Wallis, Francis Bacon and Patrick Heron, as well as sculptures by Barbara Hepworth and Sarah Lucas.
The exhibition includes important recent works such as The Mirror Stage (2009-12), an exploration of his adolescent encounter with a Patrick Heron painting at the opening of Tate St Ives in 1993; Welcome to the Hotel Munber (2008-10), the set for a fictitious erotic story taking place in the Spanish hotel bar his parents ran during Franco’s regime; and Letters From Mexico (2010-11), a group of dispatches the artist has written to ‘Europe’, which discuss subjects ranging from colonialism and class inequality to sexual liberation.
In addition, the show presents a number of newly commissioned works. These include Rehearsal for a Reunion (with the Father of Pottery) (2011-12), a revisiting of Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada’s friendship in the form of a pottery workshop Fujiwara undertook with his Japanese father. Selective Memory (2012) is a series of giant, absurd childlike sculptures inspired by his boyhood recollection of the Alfred Wallis’ paintings. Mothers, of Invention (2012) is a stage like display inspired, in part, by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Barbara Hepworth’s St Ives studio.