Art & Photography / Who, What, Why

The Last Cosmology by Kikuji Kawada

Considering Kawada's breathtaking series, The Last Cosmology

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Glasshouse and Sky, Tokyo, 1981
Glasshouse and Sky, Tokyo, 1981© Kikuji Kawada. Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery

Who? Born in the Ibaraki Prefecture in 1933, Kikuji Kawada is a renowned Japanese photographer. He cofounded the VIVO collective in 1959 with Akira Sato, Eikoh Hosoe, Ikko Narahara, Akira Tanno and Shomei Tomatsu. His pioneering pictures have made him one of the most important postwar photographers in Japan.

What? There’s a brilliant Kawada moment to experience in London this December. Tate Modern have nearly an entire room dedicated to his famed project The Map from 1965, as part of its Conflict, Time, Photography show, documenting the aftermath of the atomic bomb and the war in Japan. The Michael Hoppen Gallery are presenting the first solo UK exhibition of Kawada's Last Cosmology series, as a complete set of vintage prints.

"Through these photographs the cosmology is an illusion of the firmament at the same time it includes the reality of an era and also the cosmology of a changing heart" – Kikuji Kawada

Why? The Last Cosmology series was captured between 1980 and 2000, and includes titles such as “Air and Dreams”, “The Last Sun” and “Cosmography”. Originally published in parts in the 1980s, it was compiled into a publication and solo exhibition in 1995. Part of Kawada’s "Catastrophe Trilogy," the chronicle seemingly ties together the dramas of the skies with the end of two historical eras on earth: the ‘Showa’ era with the death of the Emperor in Japan and the 20th century.

“I was born at the beginning of the Showa Era. There was a great war during my boyhood and then I lived during the period of re-construction and growth and now I slowly approach the evening of life,” the artist says. “Through these photographs the cosmology is an illusion of the firmament at the same time it includes the reality of an era and also the cosmology of a changing heart.”

The Last Cosmology runs at the Michael Hoppen Gallery from December 1 until January 23, 2015.

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