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06 January 2017

AKI KURODA is depicting HAMLET

AKI KURODA book. PLUMEVOYAGE @plumevoyagemagazine © Plume

Photographs of Aki Kuroda in his workshop by Françoise Spiekermeier.

On one side, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which carves language and human feelings to produce a visionary fresco and project Western thought into a future that surpasses it, on the other side, the image of a Japanese painter, the designer of a new Cosmos abolishing borders. At the fold of the book, the perfect alchemy.

Facing the genius of this nomadic painter in balance on the thread of human destiny, the Gallimard editions gave carte blanche to the artist who decided to invest the universe of William Shakespeare that he discovered very young just like the whole Japanese post-war generation open on Western culture. “Being or not being,” says Aki Kuroda, is a phrase that inhabited my childhood without really knowing its context. » As an adult, the artist developed a true passion for this text of the English playwright who was a a true source of inspiration, “This is a collaborative work with Shakespeare that goes beyond time and space, and I phoned William and talked about it,” he explains, with a mutine pupil.

From the canvas to the book, there is above all the work of a painter, different from that of the illustrator. After rereading Hamlet, Aki Kuroda tried to forget everything to let speak the essence of the work translated into movements. This gave fifty strong and powerful drawings that blend beautifully with the text of Shakespeare, reissued in its entirety on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death. This contemporary edition of Hamlet in a translation by Jean-Michel Déprats is proposed with the fifty-five original drawings by Aki Kuroda and a bookmark designed by the artist or in a limited edition of 99 copies, embedded in screenprinted plexiglas containing, in addition to the original drawings, two original lithographs numbered and signed by Aki Kuroda.

When he is painting, the mystery of the universe unfolds, the borders of time and space abolish: Aki Kuroda leaves the wheel of time, returns to the child, the spontaneity and innocence of the first oil painting created when he was only four years old!

In the cosmic garden of Aki Kuroda where everyone is free to come in and go out at ease without time or place, we meet William Shakespeare or Lewis Caroll, Dali or Picasso, the Minotaur, Comets surfers , hurried rabbits and red flowers because “I am a cosmic gardener who lets grow freely,” says Aki Kuroda. Coming from another planet, the painter poses no frontier between East and West, painting, theater, drawing, engraving, sculpture, photography, set design, between the canvas and the city: all material is good to be transformed, Dimension crossed. Naturally, Aki Kuroda collaborates with architects like Tadao Ando, ​​Richard Rogers or choreographers like Angelin Prejlocaj, Japanese composers like Keiichiro Shibuya who created a vocaloid opera “The End” presented at the Théâtre du Chatelet in Paris in 2013 … Throughout his travels around the world, Aki Kuroda has forged friendships with philosophers, astronomers, physicists, scientists, invited myths, mathematics, and ontological questions on his canvas, from King Minos to Hamlet, inventing his own mythology of a new cosmic paradise.

As a child, Aki discovers the art magazine Le Minautore that his father, a renowned economist, brings back to him from Paris in several copies. It is in the heart of the imperial city of Kyoto, his hometown, the high place of the Japanese tradition upset by the outcome of the Second World War, that he conceives the inconceivable, the existence of a totally different aesthetic, chaotic, iconoclastic: through the reproduction of the paintings of Miro, Picasso, Dali, he perceives the existence of another world, of another and the possibility of infinite freedom in creation. Painting will offer him a new vision of the universe and the place of man.

Arrived in France in 1970, he lives between Paris and Tokyo and is painting today in his studio in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, located at the end of a labyrinthine passage with roses. The floor of this former warehouse bathing in the zenithal light is stained with multicolored paint spots. The painter likes to mix the color between his fingers and apply it directly on the canvas in certain areas of the table laid on a trestle, horizontally. To watch his work, Aki Kuroda climbs on a stepladder, then downstairs. In the center of the room is the canvas around which he starts a dance. And all around, the white walls hidden behind large canvases that form a jungle in which the painter loves to circulate, to appear, to disappear, as in a luxuriant garden.

In 1992, Aki Kuroda imagined a musical, a performance bringing together ballet dancers from the Paris National Opera, musicians and poets: a true spectacle between classical opera and electronic operetta featuring artists The most prominent in their field. Thus, with the show Cosmogarden10 presented at the Théâtre des Sablons in Neuilly in November 2015, the Intangible Labyrinth (its title) took spectators in a cosmic garden, a total experience of penetration into a sensitive picture in five or six dimensions where space and the characters come to life between the lines of this embodied poem.

In 2017, it is possible that Cosmogarden is transported in the desert of Saudi Arabia. With Aki Kuroda, reality has no limits.

Hamlet, William Shakespeare, interpreted by Aki Kuroda, 200 pages, format 25 x32,5cm
Publisher Gallimard
Current edition. Price: 45 €
Deluxe edition, size 22,2 x 33 cm. Price: 900 €

Exhibitions by Aki Kuroda
In Lyon until January 19th, 2017
Gallery Atelier 28
28 rue Burdeau, 69001 Lyon

Aki Kuroda

In Chamalières until January 19th, 2017
Gallery Louis Gendre
7, rue Charles Fournier, 63400 Chamalières
04 73 36 53 83

Artist’s site :


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