press release

For the first time in the history of the Uffizi’s collection of Self Portraits, three Japanese artists – Yayoi Kusama - Hiroshi Sugimoto - Tadanori Yokoo – representing the acme of contemporary Japanese art have made a gift of self portraits executed specifically for the Gallery.

Using different media, the three Japanese artists have expressed a three-dimensional presentation of themselves associated with traits peculiar to the cultural identity of their country. The portrait/manga of Kusama, the sculptural mask of Yokoo, and the photo framed by complementary material symbols by Sugimoto, not only yield multiple identities (in keeping with the significance of the self-portraiture within the singular Florentine collection), but also express the sentiment of the infinite, the value of memory and the aspiration to supersede – through art – the limits of existence. Playful spheres of colour materialise the wild-eyed vision of the face of Kusama (with which we are already familiar, having previewed an image of it in the exhibition devoted to ‘Female Self Portraits’ in the most recent edition of the ‘Never Seen Before’ series): a face that becomes container and mask in an ongoing existential performance. Dreaming me by Yokoo evokes the perception of the uniqueness of his being. Averse even to the study of self, the artist displays the cast of his face, obstructing even the transmission of the gaze. The living mask is again inherent to the photographic language of Sugimoto, through the Noh theatre in which the actors perform a theatre of masks without actually wearing them. Itamen, the naked countenance, is what the face of flesh and bone of the actor used as a mask is called: thus in playing a part without a mask the artist actually reveals a different one, to the point of performing a lie and no longer even being able to understand who he is.

While the ceremony for the donation of the self portraits was being prepared, Japan was overwhelmed by the forces of nature, which is also the profound voice of that country. Today, through art, the Uffizi Gallery expresses its sympathy and honours the Japanese people in the persons of the Japanese Ambassador to Italy, Hiroyasu Ando and Professor Shigetoshi Osano of the University of Tokyo, who have so graciously honoured their commitment to be present at the ceremony.

only in german

Yayoi Kusama - Hiroshi Sugimoto - Tadanori Yokoo
Donated Self Portraits
Ort: Uffizi Gallery - San Pier Scheraggio