Over the past decade, Simon Fujiwara has become known for his staging of complex and immersive shows, exploring the deeply rooted mechanisms of identity construction, reflecting on individuals and societies. Addressing the inherent contradictions of image and narrative making, from social media and self presentation to marketing and history formation, Fujiwara revels in the complexity and paradox of our simultaneous quest for fantasy and authenticity. Crossing multiple media, from sculpture and installation to video and painting and mining worlds as diverse as advertising and archaeology, Fujiwara’s works are a constant reportage on the real world sources from which they draw inspiration. However, rather than simply presenting commentary, the artist creates a unique universe of his own.
The British Japanese artist, currently based in Berlin, grew up nearby St Ives in the UK, and his recent projects have increasingly explored his childhood experiences in Cornwall. Much of the artist’s work draws on his biography, creating engaging and sometimes challenging stories which mix fact and fiction to compelling and powerful effect. Using his family history, he fuses the private sphere with the social realm, blurring reality and storytelling to create a drama in which he plays the roles of multiple characters: anthropologist, novelist, and eroticist among others.
In his ambitious and diverse practice, people, technology, images, and objects are tools used to paint a compelling and fragmented portrait of the 21st century. Fujiwara studied Architecture at Cambridge University, and then Fine Art at the Städelschule Hochschule fur Bildende Kunst in Frankfurt. He has participated in several biennials including the Venice Biennale, Manifesta 8, São Paulo Biennial, Singapore Biennial, and Performa, New York, and his work has been presented at prominent galleries and museums around the world.
Recently, concluding in January 2019, Fujiwara exhibited at Lafayette Anticipations, where is solo show Revolution carried on a dialogue which the artist had begun in 2014. Among the works on display, the particularly compelling Joanne series revolved around a number of large-format photographs and a film. Joanne Salley was Fujiwara’s secondary school art teacher who, in 2011, was forced to resign after topless photographs of her were circulated without her permission. The series points to the tabloids’ ability to destroy this former beauty queen and, more widely, questions women’s image in the mainstream media.
Fujiwara is currently showing work at London’s Whitechapel Gallery, as part of the group show Is This Tomorrow?, open until 12 May 2019. Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Salvator Mundi has been hidden from view since its record-breaking $450 million purchase at auction. For the show, Fujiwara proposes his contemporary twist on the famous Renaissance work; to create the Salvator Mundi Experience, the artist has hung several scaled-down reproductions inside a model museum just large enough for one person to stand in at a time. Fujiwara created the 360-degree experience with London-based architect David Kohn.
Feature image: Simon Fujiwara, Anne Frank’s Wall, 2017 (via Art Basel)