Japanese Mono-ha (“School of Things”) artist Kishio Suga was announced the winner of the 2016 Mainichi Art Award on January 28. The prize, which was first established in 1959 by the leading Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun, recognizes the contributions of outstanding figures in visual art, literature, theatre, music and film.
“One could say that times have caught up with my work. Forty years ago, nobody understood it, but these days more people appreciate how my work was trying to stimulate people’s consciousness,” said Suga to Mainichi Shimbun upon receiving the award.
The 72-year-old artist, along with other members of Mono-ha, including Nobuo Sekine, Lee Ufan and Susumu Koshimizu, formed the group in the late 1960s as a rejection of Western modernism, turning instead to the use of everyday and natural materials, such as wooden planks, rope, concrete and metal. The artists’ minimal arrangements of these objects allowed for the materials to speak for themselves, inducing organic relationships between the various “things.”
In September, Milan’s HangarBicocca gallery will showcase Suga in an exhibition encompassing 20 of his installations from the 1970s to the 1990s, in his largest solo exhibition to date.
Previous winners of the Mainichi Art Award include Korean minimalist painter and fellow Mono-ha artist Lee Ufan, as well as architect Tadao Ando and photographer Nobuyoshi Araki of Japan.
Sylvia Tsai is associate editor at ArtAsiaPacific.