Torches, Torches

‘Curators would have liked to show Kohei Yoshiyuki’s 1971 series, ‘The Park’, as it was originally shown in Japan: in a dark room with visitors having to use torches‘ (from a Guardian review of a Tate Modern exhibition)

One thinks, of course, of the Spanish painter, Luis Recagis, whose 1973 show ‘Lights Out’ employed similar (i.e. pretty much the same) methods. I note, however, that art historian D H Laven (whose wonderful article on Recagis can be found here) makes no mention of Recagis’ debt to Yoshiyuki – can we presume that it was, therefore, a coincidence? Recagis’ first ‘torch-light’ painting was made, we are told, in 1971. Before or after ‘The Park’? Who can say…

What’s interesting about Recagis’ 1973 exhibition, however, is the way it was denounced, not on the basis of content, but on the basis that the artist happened to have made derogatory comments about his fellow countryman Picasso on the eve of his death. This led, Laven argues, to Recagis’ cruel omission from all histories of art. One continues to wonder whether his ‘similarity’ to Yoshiyuki might have added another apple to the swiftly collapsing cart.

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