Into the unpredictable world: Thoughts on Hiraku Suzuki’s exhibition

Toshiharu Ito (Art Historian)

How do cave paintings come into being?
When exploring the interior of a cave with a torch, for example, one gets the feeling as if myriad images were lurking there in the darkness. Caves are places of receptivity, places to discover new images and create new forms and meanings inspired by the shapes of rocks and limestones captured according to personal body sensations, and by the welter of lines and surfaces that are pulsating in the darkness, dragged out in dream- or euphoria-like altered states of consciousness. For primitive man, caves must have been archives of elemental knowledge for survival, with murals functioning as interfaces to access the vast amount of information contained. The cave in this sense is a kind of storage and projection device, whereas the space itself is fitted with a mechanism for producing meanings and forms.

Hiraku Suzuki has been perceiving and understanding urban environments this way, which is why his works can be considered cave paintings of sorts in the city with its invisible cavernous structure. In contrast to their geometric physical appearances, the cities in which we live are gradually turning into dematerialized and fluidized, syncronously ubiquitous environments. The artist elaborately extricates, accumulates, modifies and fine-tunes all kinds of codes and configurations that are secretly lurking in these metamorphosing cities, to sculpture new forms and figurations. It’s a process of scraping out the buried images the faint torchlight vaguely outlines in the darkness of a cave, and copying them onto new canvases using the whole body.

This calls to mind Carlos Castaneda’s concept of two different realities he calls the Tonal and the Nagual Universe. While the former represents an ordinary world of common, causal relationships that is predictabe as if following pre-programmed rules, the latter refers to the sphere of the unpredictable, uncontrollable and unknown. In order to enter this world, one has to accept random factors and accidentally opened doors. If an artist lives only in the former type of environment, this means that he will keep copying the Tonal Universe, as a consequence of which his work will be as predictable as the world that it imitates. Those on the other hand who are eager to conjure up the unpredictable must be constantly open to chance and eventuality. In addition, it is true that “A spell that works today may be flat as yesterday’s beer tomorrow”. The Nagual Universe can only exist if we keep on updating it by our own efforts.
Hiraku Suzuki confronts with his works this uncontrollable world, while his essential posture manifests itself through the eagerness to cast himself into it, fluctuating on several layers across and beyond its multitudinous shapes and patterns.

January 2008
an essay contributed to the catalogue of solo exhibition “NEW CAVE


< return to text list