Sztuka i rytuały. Koji Kamoji i jego wizje nieskończoności

Sebastian Dudzik



The present article is devoted to the selected works of Koji Kamoji completed between 2013 and 2015 and gathered in the collection of Waldemar Andzelm Gallery. The Japanese painter, sculptor, illustrator and author of spatial installations, living and creating in our country for the last fifty years, has created for the mentioned gallery an installation made up of three Torii gates as well as a cycle of 'white' paintings. Both those artistic undertakings perfectly represent both the specific nature of the collection itself as well as its Lublin collector's copyright idea of presentation of art, whose model assumes two complementary spaces: the sterile clean outer space, cultivating the idea of 'white cube' and the outer 'organic' space - organized by man and nature alike. The first one has become a natural place of 'existence' for paintings, graphics, drawings and small spatial forms gathered over the years. Kamoji's minimalist painting compositions find themselves perfectly in it. Complementary value for this microcosm is embodied by the 'art garden' - the outside space organized on the rooftop of an apartment building. It is accessed through the glazed part of the gallery interior, which constitutes a kind of link between two worlds. According to the original project natural elements - earth, plants, gravel and stones - were associated with appropriately located spatial artistic works: sculptures and constructions of architectonic-sculptural character by such artists as Kałucki, Berdyszak and Kamoji. In a word, artistic works demanding suitably large exhibition space were introduced into the structure of the garden. It must be stressed that each of the works was created especially for that 'art garden'. So to speak, the artists subdued to the superior idea of the gallery owner, thanks to which individual creations intertwine with the garden 'tissue' into an integral narration. What we have here is undoubtedly a site-specific gallery type.

Among the works designed specifically for this place, there is a set of three Japanese Torii gates authored by Koji Kamoji. The gates have been located around the garden in such a way so as each of them is placed at right angles to another, while the first and the last one, although parallel, do not form a single line. The distance which separates them is larger than the width of the central gate. This is responsible for the stone path running under the gates to break into the shape resembling an S. On the poles of each Torii Koji left inscriptions with his own name as well as the names of his tragically deceased friend Sasaki, his father (Torao) and his mother (Ayame).

The appearance of the unknown to our culture Torii gate system in the sky-high art garden of Waldemar Andzelm may come as a bit of a surprise, yet it is by no means unfounded. Art is a way of sanctifying space and by introducing into it a spiritual element subjects it to an irreversible change. The designer's own relation to art and its religious connotations does not remain meaningless. Searching for the picture of infinity identified also with the value of space-time in the works of Kamoji emerges directly out of his religious attitude. The ritual of creation has to him a certain sacral dimension. This applies both to the abstract description of reality and to his references to particular events or characters. Thus, his paintings often feature symbolic references to religious iconography (colour schemes, Zen garden implications). To Kamoji, the roof-located garden-gallery has become a symbolic place, and as such worthy of commemoration and prayer. The location of the two outer Torii, framing the space of the rooftop and the air space, directs our senses to emptiness and the infinity that comes with it. What is real, tangible, becomes but another reference point enabling us to grasp the immensity around us and inside of us at the same time. Internal spaces regulated by mutually perpendicular constructions also expose the emptiness. In contrast to temple-themed Torii they not only mark the distance but unilaterally close the space confined between them. The size of the gates, adjusted to human scale, reminds us of our corporeality and makes us realize our immersion in the void.

In a very specific way the Torii placed in the 'art garden' hint to the Japanese tradition of Far Eastern philosophy and its vision of reality. They are tangible and concrete in their expressive value. Kamoji's minimal, almost sterile, paintings present themselves completely otherwise; the artist clearly avoids any connotations with reality, to the point of not giving titles to them. The described set of paintings constitutes a kind of evolutionary consistency in heading towards the artist achieving the most balanced possible, yet at the same time the most synthetic visual recording, which remains an unfinished form. This is confirmed by modifications introduced after two years. The order structure of the discussed compositions, the materials used in their completion and the dominance of white in the chromatic scheme - all seem to indicate to their 'Far East' character. The artist himself made references to this in his utterance: ‘The work with small white pebbles - similarly to the way we play GO I place one after another. The difference is that in this “game” my “partner” is space-time/infinity. It can be said that the game consists in finding an appropriate location for every pebble within a determined area, so that the true aspect could be revealed for the space which I sometimes experience and which I desire to express. I think to myself and I am almost convinced that the process may resemble the creation of a Zen garden. Its most important part is to feel the reality of the space and to find oneself within it’[1].

The mystic context in Kamoji's utterance constitutes only an indication to the right direction, an opening of the right path. After a deeper reading we discover that behind those several pithy sentences hides a wealth of meanings and references, which deserve a deeper reflection. This may apply to each work separately or the process of creating a series as a whole, it may be directed to the artist himself, to his attitude towards reality or art, and eventually it can turn to complex relations in the triangle of artist - art work - beholder. The discourse carried out in the present text is meant to attempt to delineate and learn the area (without providing explanation to it), to establish its crucial accents and narrative intervals.

In the understanding of the pictures created by Kamoji, a huge role is played by an individual's realization of the ambiguity of emptiness. The infinity of its symbolic representation in white colour, which places us outside time and space, creates an unparalleled opportunity to define one's own world. Such a symbolic 'clean blackboard' can be filled with overlapping harmonized systems. On the visual plane tensions form between the white void and the physically determined shapes and props. The material components employed in the game form multiple cracks and gaps in the constellations created by themselves. Such understatements allow for one's own projection of the elements which are absent in the picture, left without a closure and not fully defined, and which is localized in the infinity of space and time.

In the creative output of this Japanese artist the infinity of the universe means its constant multifaceted constitution in time and space. Paradoxically, being a part of it we also contain some of its vastness. In the mental and philosophical approach the journey into the self is in reality an attempt to open oneself to the outside. According to this, atomic forces in the artist's compositions as well as the emptiness and distance dividing the individual Torii engraved with names, all constitute visual emanation of a liberating wandering.

[1] Koji Kamoji, quotation from the artist’s correspondence with Waldemar Andzelm, 2013.

Słowa kluczowe

Koji Kamoji; malarstwo abstrakcyjne; instalacja typu site specific; Torii; Waldemar Andzelm Gallery; sztuka i nieskończoność

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