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Nigel Coates

©François Lauginie

  • Gamma Tokyo, 1985
  • Painting
  • Crayon graphite, collage, photomontage et pastel sur calque contrecollé sur papier
  • 42 x 59.4 cm
  • 008 66 01

Gamma Tokyo, 1985

At the exhibition Gamma City presented at the Air Gallery in London in 1984, Nigel Coates and NATO (Narrative Architecture Today) came up with a neo-Situationist vision of the city, pleading for the emergence of a mutant and moving urban condition, permanently subject to the changes and actions of its components:  “Gamma City is not a style but a political, social and aesthetic attitude founded on signs and scrambling processes. Exchange is a fundamental act in architecture, and its space is the street. The Gamma streets are at once dwelling, shop, factory, bar, recycling old images for new uses…” In this same period Nigel Coates was invited to work in Japan with the entrepreneur Shi Yu Chen, and in Tokyo he discovered the absolute model of the gamma city: “It is the outcome of excessive retrievals, distortions, interstices and chance. Not like in London, because of a collective deterioration, but because it is worked and maintained as a whole by life”. In 1985, the magazine Brutus gave him a chance to come up with his own vision of the Japanese capital. As with the neo-Expressionist canvases on view at the Gamma City show, Gamma Tokyo presents an urban landscape which has become nothing less than a maelstrom, where bodies, objects, new technologies, and architecture all merge in one and the same sensual and entropic movement. The work is saturated with signs and references, and shows a Tokyo apartment in which there are certain objects designed by the architect and presented at the London exhibition, such as the Footman TV, and the Wombat shelves. A whole stretch of wall seems to be missing, opening the interior of the room onto the city which, in return, injects it with its chaos and its frenetic rhythm. But the interior and the exterior of the apartment seem to be invaded by new communication systems (wireless telephone, fax, television, satellite aerial, CD) and advertising (Pampers, giant screens). The means of transport fill Tokyo’s sky (airplanes, freeways on several levels) in which, beneath cloudy scrolls, it is possible to make out the image of a man undressing.

Gilles Rion

Inventory / Slideshow [1]