Tate, St Ives
From: 18 January 2012
Until: 7 May 2012
Simon Fujiwara, Since 1982
November – February
10.00am until 4.20pm
Closed on Mondays
March – October
10am until 5.20pm
Simon Fujiwara fuses together architectural installation, performance and writing in his work. Born in 1982 to a Japanese architect father and English dancer mother, the subjects for his creations come from his own life experiences as well as the lives of his parents while simultaneously expressing political, social issues from history that have become important to him.
Fujiwara initially studied architecture at Cambridge before moving to the Städelschule Hochschule fur Bildende Kunst in Frankfurt am Main where he studied art. The ‘stage-set’ feel to his works which appear as whole environments or ‘rooms’ demonstrate a strong architectural element.
Fujiwara’s father was largely absent from his life, living in Japan while the artist lived in the UK with his mother in Cabris Bay, one mile from St Ives in Cornwall. Now, Tate St. Ives is to host the artist’s first major exhibition in the UK Since 1982 (January 18 until May 7) and will present five commissioned works and two of Fujiwara’s major works from the last three years.
His key-work Welcome to the Hotel Munber (2008-10) takes the form of a set for a fictitious erotic novel taking place in the Spanish hotel bar his parents ran in the 70’s during Franco’s dictatorial regime and in the artist’s own words “retells my parents’ life as erotic fiction”.
Fujiwara explained how his ideas for the work, sparked by his parent’s memories, found form: “My parents told endless tales of violence and oppression, set against a backdrop of sangria and flamenco. I always imagined it like a novel, the characters, the setting – it was exotic and vibrant to me. When I started to seriously think about what kind of book I could write, I placed myself in that time, I tried to imagine how a gay, mixed-race young man would feel about life in a homogenously white dictatorship. I looked for authors who were writing erotica from Franco Catalunya and I found almost nothing for the obvious reason that it was censored to oblivion. It was then I knew that the novel I wanted to write was an explicit erotic story set in the Hotel Munber, a story that could never have been published at that time.”
Welcome to the Hotel Munber will be shown alongside works including The Mirror Stage (2009-11) (about Fujiwara’s adolescent encounter with a Patrick Heron painting at the opening of St Ives in 1993) which explore his childhood in Cornwall, his relationship with his absent father and the encounters he experienced with art and artists in his town that have played an important role in his life.