Fluorescent flowers, thermometers, brightly painted birdcages, and floating cast-resin body parts. In this short video, Danish-Vietnamese artist Danh Vo talks about the work of the pioneering Japanese artist Tetsumi Kudo (1935-1990), who he feels has defined an unprecedented aesthetics.
“Everything that isn’t part of a common narrative is interesting.” Vo likes the fact that Kudo was not “clear cut,” working with sculptures and performance alike, without adhering to traditional boundaries between the two. By using well-known images and distorting them slightly, Vo continues, Kudo mirrored the world he worked in: “I never believed that art could save or heal us. But it can illustrate where we are today. It did so in the ‘70s and still does today.” Commenting on Kudo’s extensive use of phallic imagery, Vo concludes: “There’s plenty of testosterone in the art world. When you see an artist work with collapsed penises, then you should support it.”
Danh Vo (b.1975) is a Danish-Vietnamese artist. Vo has presented solo shows at several prominent art institutions, including The Royal Academy of Arts in London, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, and Museo Jumex in Mexico City. In 2015, Vo represented Denmark in the Venice Biennial’s Danish pavilion. Vo is the recipient of prestigious awards such as the Hugo Boss Prize (2012).
Tetsumi Kudo (1935-1990) is a Japanese artist. Kudo was a formative part of the dynamic Japanese avant-garde scene and “anti-art” currents in Tokyo at the end of the 1950s, as well as the Neo-Dada movement in Tokyo in the early 1960s. In 1962 he settled in Paris, where he was based for more than 20 year. Kudo’s peculiar and distinctive assemblages are a foreboding vision of the future, centring on the environment, ecological decadence, procreation – and humanity’s self-destruction. Kudo has described his works as visual maquettes of what he calls our New Ecology.
Danh Vo was interviewed by Christian Lund in June 2020 in connection with the exhibition ‘Tetsumi Kudo – Cultivation’ at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark.