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Gallery offers first comprehensive U.S. look at Japanese architect's work


Mary Antonakos, I space director 312-587-9976

Melissa Mitchell, Arts Editor

Casa Umbrella
Click photo to enlarge
Casa Umbrella 2008, designed by Kengo Kuma.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The first comprehensive U.S. exhibition of the work of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma will be exhibited Oct. 10 through Nov. 15 at I space, the Chicago gallery of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“Material Immaterial: The Architecture of Kengo Kuma” will feature photographic displays, full-scale artifacts, a multimedia presentation and a small tea pavilion design by Kuma, who is considered to be among the world’s leading contemporary architects. The exhibition is curated by Kevin Erickson, a professor of architecture at Illinois.

The exhibition opens a day after a reception and lecture by Kuma – both free and open to the public – in the Rubloff Auditorium of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Oct. 9 reception begins at 5 p.m, with the lecture following at 6 p.m. Both events are sponsored by the institute’s Architecture and Design Society. For more information, call 312-443-3631.

During the past academic year, Kuma frequently visited the Illinois campus to work with students and faculty members as the 2007-2008 Plym Distinguished Professor in the university’s School of Architecture.

Botond Bognar, an architectural scholar at the U. of I. who has studied and written extensively about Kuma’s designs, writes that his work is characterized by “a delicate simplicity and minimalism, incorporating a wide range of transparencies and other ephemeral qualities.

“With the ineffable vibrancy of his buildings, Kuma aims at creating architecture as an ‘anti-object.’

“By virtue of using a broad range of materials, relying on new, sophisticated and efficient technologies, natural and artificial lighting, his sensitivity to site, and paying close attention to the ecological and prevailing social context, his projects recognize both Japanese traditions and contemporary modes of design on an exceedingly high artistic level.”

A catalog featuring Kuma’s work accompanies the exhibition, and is available by contacting the architecture school at 217-333-1330.

An opening reception is planned in conjunction with the exhibition, from 5-7 p.m. on Oct. 10 at the gallery, 230 W. Superior St., Chicago.

I space gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.