'Mono-ha' refers to a group of artists, who were active in the later half of the 1960s. Their aim was to present "things" (mono) as much as possible in an unaltered state inside their work, allowing the materials to speak for themselves.
Consequently, the artists of 'Mono-ha' no longer created, but reassembled "things" into works of art, which explore the intrinsic interdependency between objects and the space that surrounds them, as well as the relation between the objects themselves.
Through encountering these works, a viewer's pre-existing conception of such objects is altered, challenging the viewer to relate to them on a whole new level.
Now, with renewed interest in and reassessment of the 'Mono-ha' catalog occurring worldwide, we hope to draw attention to the appeal of 'Mono-ha' thought by spotlighting leading 'Mono-ha' artist Nobuo Sekine and his work, "Phase Conception."
- Nobuo Sekine
Born in Saitama Prefecture, Japan in 1942.
Graduated in 1968 from Tama Art University with an MFA in painting (studying under the artist Yoshishige Saito). Winner of awards at major art exhibitions following graduation.
Active as a leading artist in the 'Mono-ha' movement, which dominated the Japanese art world from the end of the 1960s to the 1970s. The emergence of 'Mono-ha' came in October 1968 with the exhibition of Sekine's work Phase—Mother Earth, which was exhibited at the First Open Air Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition held at Kobe's Suma Rikyu Park.
Then as with now, Topology (a branch of mathematics concerned with the properties of space maintained under continuous deformation) is a key concept in Sekine's work. In fact, his approach to topological space shook the foundations which supported the ideas of "shaping" in art. This is because he presented shapes as "phases," which can stretch, contract, and contort freely, rather than thinking of them as fixed entities.
In "Phase Conception," this concept of "phase" is expressed in painting as space. As a result, this work is comprised of nicks and scratches, which have been added to a supporting medium of layered washi (Japanese paper).