Mono-ha leader Noriyuki Haraguchi opens exhibition at Fergus McCaffrey, New York

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Mono-ha leader Noriyuki Haraguchi opens exhibition at Fergus McCaffrey, New York
Noriyuki Haraguchi, A-7 E Corsair II, 2011, canvas, aluminum, wood and mixed mediums, approx. 14 x 86 x 62 feet, Courtesy Fergus McCaffrey.

NEW YORK, NY.- Fergus McCaffrey, New York, presents its third solo exhibition of works by Noriyuki Haraguchi. The exhibition will be on view from January 17 through February 21, 2015.

Haraguchi first came to prominence in Japan in the late 1960s, developing a practice that engaged with political and environmental issues through a Post-Minimal vocabulary. Born in 1946, the artist has lived most of his life in the town of Yokosuka, the home port of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet. The environment of Yokosuka, located just south of the massively industrialized city of Kawasaki, has indelibly shaped Haraguchi’s aesthetic in ways that are reflected in the three major sculptures and related relief paintings featured in this exhibition.

On the second floor, situated alongside large north-facing windows, Haraguchi will present a 24 x 12 foot Oil Pool sculpture. Installed flat and just off the floor, the pool is made from welded steel and contains dark, acrid-smelling, spent machine oil. Oil Pool acts as a dark mirror that reflects the New York City skyline outside and the gallery’s spare architecture inside, underscoring the friction that exists between the contemplative splendor of that reflection and the polluting nature of the materials. Haraguchi executed his first Oil Pool sculpture in 1971. A later version was exhibited to great acclaim at Documenta 6 in 1977 and soon after acquired by the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Iran, where it remains installed to this day.

Downstairs, the gallery’s concrete floor has been drilled to accommodate Haraguchi’s Wire Rope sculptures, the first of which was executed in 1970. Thick, horizontal lines of steel rope are bolted to the floor and stretched almost to the breaking point. Visually light but loaded with potential destructive energy, the Wire Rope sculptures occupy a zone distinct from Haraguchi’s peers, such as Fred Sandback and Chris Burden.

Also on the ground floor will be Haraguchi’s celebrated sculpture A-7 E Corsair II, 2011, the fifth in a series of full-scale replicas of jet tails of Vietnam-era American warplanes that the artist has created since 1968. Handcrafted from wood, aluminum, and canvas, and finished in graphite pencil, the lightness and delicacy of the materials belie their charged, political form.

Interspersed among these works will be a selection of the artist’s Polyurethane paintings, first made in 1978. Like Oil Pool, their origin stems from the process of oil refining. Haraguchi adopted polyurethane paint after encountering it as a floor covering in hospitals, factories, and schools in Japan; the aesthetic potential of this waste/by-product with an institutional resonance appealed to him.

Haraguchi’s work first came to prominence in the West with the 1977 Documenta, where his Oil Pool sculpture attracted a great deal of attention. Since then, his work has only occasionally been seen in the United States and Europe, most notably at the Lenbachhaus in Munich in 2001. Retrospective exhibitions of his work have recently been held at BankART, Yokohama, Japan, in 2009, and the Yokosuka Museum of Art in 2011.

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