For his first solo show in Europe, seminal post-war Japanese artist Chu Enoki presents his pioneering performance pieces of the 1970s, photographic works, exquisite, previously unseen drawings and his later sculptural works made with deactivated guns and cannons.
In the past ten years Enoki has received increasing acclaim and is now considered one of the most significant contemporary Japanese artists, having begun his artistic career in the 1960s with no formal art education. As a child in the wake of war, Enoki would go to the forest and find used gun cartridges to melt and reshape. At 16 he began using skills learnt working for his relatives’ factory in Kobe, and in his 20s he formed Japan Kobe Zero, a collective that staged interventions in public spaces.
This exhibition details one of Enoki’s pioneering performance pieces made just after leaving the collective: Going to Hungary with HANGARI (1977), which was inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s act of shaving a star into his hair, and involved Enoki shaving all of the hair on the right side of his body. He was stopped by police numerous times due to his appearance and yet he returned to Hungary four years later with the left half of his body shaved. The exhibition also presents Chu Enoki’s work with de-activated weapons – AK-47/AR-15 (2000–03), a series of sculptures of Kalashnikov and Colt guns – will also be displayed.
The melted works unite American Colts with Russian Kalashnikovs to reference the cold war, and the series was once envisaged as ongoing however at the beginning of the Iraq war the artist felt he could no longer continue to work with this theme. However also exhibited is Salute H2C2 2009, a life-size cannon replica which led to an official investigation before the artist finally received a permit from the Tokyo police allowing him to use the cannons as art. The works are used today for performances, art events and even weddings – during which he has been known to fire flowers from them.
Chu Enoki: Enoki Chu, 11 February – 11 April, White Rainbow 47 Mortimer Street, London W1W 8HJ. For more information visit www.white-rainbow.co.uk
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1. Chu Enoki, Going to Hungary with HANGARI, 1977-79/2015.