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  • Ananya Gill Sinha

On Kawara

Japanese conceptual artist, On Kawara, created nearly three-thousand paintings for his Today series. A simple yet profound premise, Kawara would meticulously hand-paint a date in the center of the canvas against a solid background in the style of the country it was painted in. The series spanned crossed 112 cities worldwide.


I tried my own hand at the project but with several tweaks. Instead of paintings, I created collages via Snapchat. I still embarrassingly confuse the proper way of writing dates, so the order of month-day-year depended partly on composition and partly on subconscious feelings of national allegiance.

Right of the bat, I was aware of an unintentional theme: the disfiguration of my face via collage. These were highly personal collages, very much unlike the solid background dates of On Kawara, which achieved a sort of universality through its impersonal standardised approach. The project made May of 2018 extremely memorable - I think perhaps because it forced daily creative reflection.


Since May, I have attempted and failed at starting other Daily collages. I have been reflecting on why. One simple reason could be due to my use of Snapchat which decreased dramatically after 2018. I also struggled with identifying authenticity within the second generation, per se, of Daily collages. Those of May 2018 contained, to me, an honest spontaneity that I believed the collages that followed lost.



These second wave of collages are more complex and perhaps more visually stimulating than the ones from May '18. I believe that these collages are more impersonal and ambiguous, they contain less text beyond the dates and plays up surrealism compared to the original series.


I have continued a similar sentiment with ink drawings and sketches -though almost all done retrospectively- that I will cover in a different blog post.


On 19.05.2018, I anxiously remarked on missing days - an un-Kawarian sentiment. By the 31st of May, the last day of the first series, I explicitly noted the gratitude that my appropriated On Kawara exercise taught me. I believe that there is an even deeper lesson on awareness, being and existence within these collages I am unable to put into words at the moment.

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