Piec­ing it to­gether

Takashi In­aba’s Puz­zle Pro­ject

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPOS -

Art Santa Fe will host the most re­cent ver­sion of the Puz­zle Pro­ject, a jig­saw col­lage of var­ied works from about 30 artists brought to­gether by Takashi In­aba of Ja­pan to cre­ate sur­pris­ing con­trasts and cor­re­spon­dences. In­aba con­ceived the wall-size pro­ject, fea­tur­ing puz­zle pieces nine or 10 inches square, in the mid-2000s. His first idea was to de­sign all the pieces him­self. With the Puz­zle Pro­ject’s for­mal in­cep­tion in 2006, he had changed the idea to hav­ing the pieces cre­ated by other artists. There have been many in­stal­la­tions of the work, each one in­volv­ing a dif­fer­ent ros­ter of artists.

Par­tic­i­pants are cho­sen af­ter sub­mit­ting ap­pli­ca­tions or through di­rect se­lec­tion by In­aba. Each one is given a blank card­board puz­zle piece and can cre­ate a de­sign us­ing pho­tog­ra­phy, paints, mixed-media, col­lage, or any other medium — as long as it stays within the lim­its of the puz­zle-piece bor­der. In­aba said that the theme is “ex­ceed­ing the bound­ary of na­tion, re­li­gion, and race with art. It will be con­nected.” The artists have the free­dom to make marks and de­vise im­ages as they see fit.

In the var­i­ous ver­sions of Puz­zle Pro­ject, in­di­vid­ual artists have cre­ated col­or­ful, ge­o­met­ri­cal mo­tifs, land­scapes, in­tri­cate draw­ings, and bur­nished sur­faces full of faces and sym­bols. David Rigby did a mixed-media piece with the pho­to­graph of a face look­ing out at the viewer through a torn hole held open by pro­ject­ing fin­gers. On a painted pizza sur­face, Boss Hiko added trompe l’oeil flies. Michael Do­herty painted a gal­axy of in­ter­con­nected plan­ets and stars. Phyl­lis Dooney adorned her puz­zle piece with the pho­tographed torso of a preg­nant woman. A beau­ti­ful sym­met­ri­cal piece by To­moyuki Nakamoto was half white and half black, the sur­face splat­tered with drops of liq­uid.

In the past, Puz­zle Pro­ject in­stal­la­tions have to­taled hun­dreds of pieces, tak­ing up vast wall sur­faces. The Art Santa Fe it­er­a­tion prom­ises to be more in­ti­mate: In early July, when the work was still in process, In­aba said there would be 49 puz­zle pieces by 29 artists. Most are Ja­panese, but a few are from Aus­tralia, the United States, and Canada. None of the artists know what the fi­nal puz­zle will look like. In­aba will in­stall the work him­self, ar­rang­ing the var­i­ous pieces “cre­at­ing var­i­ous re­la­tions and non-re­la­tions . . . or­der and dis­or­der and so on, like puz­zling out the game,” he said.

In­aba, a self-ed­u­cated artist, be­gan his ca­reer in 1988. Ten years later, he started a se­ries of monochro­matic “mir­ror art works” mak­ing splat­ter-form marks on a medium of his own com­po­si­tion: glass, resin, and alu­minum. He is co-di­rec­tor of MI Gallery, Osaka, and co-owner of Pad Gallery, Osaka.

About the Puz­zle Pro­ject, he has writ­ten, “The world is a place where things con­nect and in­ter­con­nect; they af­fect each other re­gard­less of di­rect re­la­tions. This pro­ject will present a world show­ing how these in­ter­con­nec­tions and re­la­tions rep­re­sent the or­der and dis­or­der of ex­is­tence. While politi­cians and big busi­ness may care lit­tle for the com­mon peo­ple, we strongly be­lieve that art will be able to ex­pand the im­por­tance and fea­si­bil­ity of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion; we don’t need fur­ther op­po­si­tion and sep­a­ra­tion.”

When the Art Santa Fe ver­sion of the Puz­zle Pro­ject is com­plete, In­aba will pho­to­graph it. Af­ter the show­ing, puz­zle pieces will be re­turned to those artists who want them. Some of those re­main­ing will be re­cy­cled into fu­ture in­stal­la­tions. “The ex­hi­bi­tion it­self is an ev­er­last­ing, ex­pand­ing puz­zle.” — Paul Wei­de­man

Top, Takashi In­aba:

Puz­zle Pro­ject, 2008, mixed­me­dia in­stal­la­tion; clock­wise from above, far left, pieces by Boss Hiko, Miwa Ichiko, and Michael Do­herty

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