1) ON KAWARA: the all-seeing years

This section (in the menu to the left) focusses on On Kawara in the years 1966-1979.

He began the period ablaze with ideas in New York, moved to Mexico City for six extraordinary months, then was joined by Hiroko for a further six-month period in which they travelled between the main cities of South America. Throughout 1968, the artist was Date Painting like it was 1966, and conceiving 'I GOT UP', 'I WENT' and 'I MET'.

Back in New York in 1969, On Kawara was obsessed by the Apollo 11 mission, which inspired his largest Date Paintings. This is also the period where he began to send out 'I AM STILL ALIVE' telegrams and conceived his 'One Million Years (Past)' and 'One Million Years (Future)' works.

The artist undertook a two-month residency in Stockholm (1972/73), a year-long residency in Berlin (1976/77), and
a couple of trips to Japan (1970/71 and 1978/79). He never for a moment lost sight of his vision; one day at time with no exceptions. 'Relentlessly resolute', is one way of putting his achievement.

In 1979 On Kawara stopped doing his 'I GOT UP', 'I WENT' and 'I MET'. But why? Dear reader, I explore this issue in as much detail as humanly possible. Paralysingly so, it could be said.

It's this 1966-1979 period that I intend to rewrite as a book without images. But for now you have a 14-essay text that keeps coming back to On Kawara's minimally deadpan and maximally original artwork. Where all is all-but hidden. Where the single, simple day repeatedly comes across as a complex revelation.


This second section (to the left, up a bit) describes how I first came across On Kawara's work, was deeply moved by it, and how my interest in it evolved between 1992 and 2002. Its about my experience and process as much as On Kawara's. But I can hardly leave myself out of my own project, as James Boswell might have said about
The Life of Samuel Johnson.

3) ON KAWARA: later life

Section three (see left) goes back into a chronological study of On Kawara after he'd stopped doing 'I GOT UP', 'I WENT' and 'I MET' but was still Date Painting. On and Hiroko were raising a two children and ensuring that they were educated in both New York and Tokyo. But that alone cannot account for On Kawara's movements, his Date Painting(s) in 136 cities the world over. This period of his life came to be dominated by ambitious curations of his own work rather than new work
per se.


Section four (see left, down a bit this time) is a series of self-contained investigations that is ONGOING. Each is inspired by a knowledge of On Kawara's life, art and legacy, but in markedly different ways. On Kawara can be approached from many angles. Every one of which (so far) leads to enlightenment. Or do I mean endarkenment, encroaching endarkenment? You decide.


This section has been pulled from the GAME ON section to draw attention to the importance of Codes in On Kawara's oeuvre. Their complexity contrasts with the simplicity of much of his end product, emphasising that all his work is the result of a complex process. Less is more. But he needed to do an awful lot of thinking to get to the honed down position of JAN. 4, 1966.