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Koki Tanaka's public art takes the bus

March 10, 2011 |  3:35 pm

Koki Tanaka Bus a Public art these days doesn't get much better than Koki Tanaka's "A painting to public," which is on view as part of the Tokyo-born, L.A.-based artist's debut show at Chinatown's The Box. Conceptually the work is simplicity itself, although it took a bit of doing to get it made.

First Tanaka painted a small picture of a bicycle being carried in a rack on the front of an MTA bus. Trailed by a videographer, he strapped the painting to his bicycle, rode over to a neighborhood bus stop and, when the bus came, loaded the bicycle onto the rack. The painting faced forward, and the artist boarded the bus.

For the duration of the trip, the painting was on public view. When he reached his destination he retrieved the bicycle and peddled away.

Koki-tanaka-poster At The Box, the bicycle, painting, photographs and a video are all installed, creating something like a nesting doll of images within images and an event within an event. The general audience on the street intersects the specialized audience that goes to art galleries. (There might even be some overlap.) And forget the bureaucratic dance that tends to tamp down public commissions, draining away lively provocation or just plain fun. Like a street artist of a different kind -- meaning Tanaka didn't intrude on anyone's space -- he shunned review committees, nonprofit grants and civic ordinance paperwork and approvals for this public art work. He just did it.

And the art is a pleasure to see, partly because it's also a slyly devastating critique of a social climate in which art is marginalized as some sort of exclusive luxury item. Tanaka, 35, is working in a difficult but fertile territory opened up by artists such as David Hammons. "A painting to public" remains at The Box until March 19 -- and then maybe on a bus near you.

The Box, 977 Chung King Rd., Chinatown, (213) 625-1747, through March 19. Closed Sunday through Tuesday. www.theboxla.com


Thek Spring arts preview: Visual art

Art review: Koki Tanaka at The Box

Art review: 'Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman'

-- Christopher Knight

Photos: "A painting to public" (detail), 2011; Credit: Christopher Knight/Los Angeles Times; exhibition poster; Credit: The Box

Comments () | Archives (8)


Marcel Duchamp would have been proud!

Sounds like a great show and wonderful giving idea!

Think of what the audiences perceived, in and out of the galleries!

Gives so many something new to think about, which is great food for thought!

yes so very very much amazing bigger than any idea ever.

If of anorexic mind. Duchamp played out long ago, it was a joke folks. One he laughed all the way to the bank with, the clever old sociopath. Which is what draws minor versions of himself to academies now, mostly just narcissists. .

art colegia delenda est

This is a small idea that gets everybody thinking. And the wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round...all through the town. Nothing childish about it.

Not a thing. That childrens book is great art. along with the Hungry Caterpillar, though my kid preferred The Big Road Race.

Isnt this deja vu? thought we saw the wheels going round and round a month ago?
Wow, deeeeeeeeep.

Is this art a little out of your depth, DF? Building a bridge over shallow water is a waste of resources. If it turns out to be a mirage, you won't even get your feet wet.

I can jump over it easy enough, not that old, used to coach ball after all, but really just a step, Cant get my court shoes muddy in the puddle of contempt and daycare fingerpainting,
though that would be a step up. Taking kids to LACMA and art class next month, think I will find better talent there, who just explore creativty, not massage brittle egos with exhibitionist therapy and games.


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