Tatsumi Orimoto - Art X Life
Tatsumi Orimoto has a theory about his recent popularity. “After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, so many people wanted art that was warm and funny,” he says as he shows me around an exhibition of his graphic art and objects at his hometown art venue, the Kawasaki City Museum. Although it is not clear how Orimoto’s work can serve as an antidote to terrorism, it is definitely cheerful and even life-affirming. After starting out as a conceptual artist in the late ’60s, the 56-year-old finally made his name in the early ’90s as a performance artist, traveling the world with bundles of bread tied to his face, delighting people not as Orimoto, but as “Breadman.”
The various adventures of his crusty alter ego are captured in a series of posters and postcards, including one showing Breadman joining a bread line for street people in New York City. Such escapades in the name of art naturally provoked some hostility, but for Orimoto, even home is not free of negative responses to his work. “In Tokyo, they don’t like my performance,” he says a little sadly. “They give me dirty looks. Some ladies say to their children, ‘Hey, don’t touch him,’ like I’m crazy. Also, people’s faces never laugh. They’re tight and serious.”
C.B. LIDDELL - Japan Times
Tatsumi Orimoto’s “Art x Life” at the Kawasaki City Museum comprises videos, drawings, posters, sculptures, photographs and newspapers spanning his career. The exhibition occupies two wings of the museum, with the central hall between hung with large fabric prints of the artist and his mother. Throughout artworks are accompanied by documentation and archival material, communicating a sense of Orimoto’s biography, methods and ideas, the interlacing of which is summarized by the exhibition title. Kawasaki is Orimoto’s hometown and much of the work on display was produced there and concerns issues pertinent to the area. The exhibition begins with selections from the ‘Art Mama’ series, which focuses on Orimoto’s care for his elderly mother, who suffers from both Alzheimer’s Disease and deafness.
Care issues are of growing relevance in Japan, where now almost one hundred eighty thousand people between 15-29 years old tend to a family member. With government projections showing that by 2055 around 40% of Japanese citizens will be sixty-five or over, homecare is an increasingly common lifestyle. Orimoto conveys the complexities and emotional difficulties connected to this demographic through absurd, dark and humorous performances and events.
CALUM SUTHERLAND - Tokyo Art Beat
Waugh Office Productions documented Tatsumi Orimoto's retrospective at The Kawasaki City Museum. Including filmed interviews and photographs.