Art And Culture

Japanese Artist Revisits His Work at TMoCA After 40 Years

The emptiness which echoes in the art of the artist is illustrated in ‘Matter and Mind’ within a modern context
Noriyuki Haraguchi (R) installing ‘Matter and Mind’ in 1977 at Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (L) and the work at present timeNoriyuki Haraguchi (R) installing ‘Matter and Mind’ in 1977 at Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (L) and the work at present time

Japanese sculptor and painter Noriyuki Haraguchi will arrive in Tehran next week to see his work at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMoCA) and oversee its restoration.

Four decades ago Haraguchi’s oil pool, titled ‘Matter and Mind,’ was installed at the TMoCA.

“Matter and Mind was put up in 1977 as part of the museum’s interior design. It is now among the iconic artworks treasured by the complex. Haraguchi will visit the museum to personally supervise the restoration of his work,” Honaronline quoted head of the museum Ali Mohammad Zare’ as saying.

Matter and Mind, his memorable oil pool, a low metal container, is filled with waste oil, making an opaque and gorgeously reflective surface with mesmerizing effects.

Haraguchi, 71, created his first oil pool sculpture in 1971. After it was shown at the 6th edition of Documenta, a quinquennial contemporary art exhibition held in 1977 in Kassel, Germany, it caught the attention of TMoCA officials who purchased the expensive work and installed it at the museum where it stands up to this day.

Haraguchi favors industrial substances without charm, such as concrete and steel. His work instantly fell in harmony with the architecture of TMoCA, a striking modern concrete structure on North Kargar Street in central Tehran. The museum was designed by Iranian architect Kamran Diba, who used elements from traditional Persian architecture.

A spiraling walkway in the middle of the museum leads down to the reflecting oil pool. One can lean on the railing and stare down at the dark mirror. The prevailing emptiness which echoes in the art of the Japanese artist is illustrated in a modern context.

  Natural Meets the Industrial

Haraguchi was one of the students involved in the important Mono-ha movement in the late 1960s and early ‘70s. Mono-ha artists explored the encounter between natural and industrial materials, such as stone, steel plates, glass, light bulbs, cotton, sponge, paper, wood, wire, rope, leather, oil and water, arranging them in mostly unaltered, ephemeral states.

The works focus as much on the interdependency of the various elements and the surrounding space as on the materials themselves.

Haraguchi’s adopted materials have come to include I-beams, pressed-steel car parts, waste oil, polyurethane and rubber.

TMoCA is among the largest art museums in Iran. It has more than 3,000 items that include 19th and 20th century world-class European and American paintings, prints, drawings and sculptures. TMoCA also has one of the biggest collections of modern and contemporary Iranian art.

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