GAME ON (2)
1969
info/igno



In April, 2021 I wrote about On Kawara travelling through South America from late September, 1968 to early April, 1969. I assumed he was travelling alone but couldn't be sure. Now, as you'll soon learn, we know the truth of the matter, though mysteries remain.

It was when I was writing about On's first major show in Bern in 1974, that I came across
a letter from Hiroko Hiraoka to Kasper König dated July 1969 which made it clear that Hiroko had been with On at the end of his trip to South America. She described the pair landing at John F Kennedy Airport at the beginning of April, 1969, with about fifty Date Paintings which American customs then held onto for a month, not believing the strange objects were paintings. She also mentioned that she and On had discussions about Date Paintings with customs officials at Panama Airport, which would have been in mid-March of 1969.

That got me curious as to whether Hiroko had been with On in February, 1969, when he had been in Brasilia. The 'I WENT' maps for the seven days he spent in that model city were reproduced in
On Kawara: continuity/discontinuity, and I'd been wondering why. I could see why the seven days of 'I MET' had been chosen, that was a week in January, 1973, when On had been on his residency in Stockholm and meeting the curators that would be responsible for the continuity/discontinuity book and exhibition. But why this particular week in Brasilia, administrative capital of Brazil, as exemplifying 'I WENT'?

Below is detail from I WENT for 25 February, 1969:

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Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

I studied the seven maps in detail and produced a fanciful narrative that covered the few facts that I knew. Basically, I suggested that, on February 25, On went to a residential estate and entered three flats (at the bottom of the above map extract). Then, the next day, he returned to the same estate and went into two of the flats that he'd visited the day before. In my fiction, these were the flats of Brazilian men that he'd met in Mexico City a few months before, and he was giving them each a Date Painting that he had made while staying in Brasilia. All perfectly possible, I was implying. All highly unlikely, actually.

As I wrote towards the end of this fiction:

'So. I have attempted to weave a simple story around the Brasilia Date Paintings. I suspect it would be a slightly different story if I had access to the 'I MET' lists for Feb. 21 to Feb.27. Oh, and I really should check out who On Kawara bumped into while attending the carnivals at Rio and Sau Paulo in the days prior to that, in order to maximise verisimilitude.

Maximising verisimilitude. That's what this exercise is all about.'


Now, since about November, 2021, I've had access to a source of the complete 'I MET' volumes. It was while I was writing the 1976 essay, concerning On's time in Berlin, when I first received information from the reference library at Art Gallery Ontario. I also received from them the requested 'I MET' lists for 1977, 1978 and 1979. Each time I sent off a request I wondered if this was the time the patience of the anonymous official in the library would run out. I was particularly anxious when I sent them a list of requests to mop up my queries about the earlier years, 1968 to 1975. But back came the information from the reference desk in Ontario. I thanked him/her/them fulsomely for their help and, or so I thought, closed down the communication.

Then, earlier this month, I realised I'd omitted to ask about Brasilia, 1969. So I made myself write a new request for 'I MET' information, and as I waited for the reply I was more sure than ever that this would be the one time they wouldn't respond. This was the straw that would break the poor official's back.

But I needn't have worried. Below is what they sent me. I'll let you read all seven lists at once, before I go any further:

February 21, 1969
(In Sao Paulo)
Michio Osawa
Hiroko Hiraoka
Sachiko Koshikoku
Tomoshige Kusuno
Etsuko Kondo
Yoichi Nakakura
Emiko Araki
Naoto Kondo
Fujiko Imanishi
Kazuo Wakabayashi
(In Brasilia)
Hiroko Hiraoka
Irineu Mamede
 
February 22, 1969
Hiroko Hiraoka
Irineu Mamede
Celso De Almeida.
 
February 23, 1969
Hiroko Hiraoka
Fabio Luiz Magalhaes
 
February 24, 1969
Hiroko Hiraoka
 
February 25, 1969
Hiroko Hiraoka
Fabio Luiz Magalhaes
Aquila Rocha Miranda
Liz Rocha Miranda
 
February 26, 1969
Hiroko Hiraoka
Liz Rocha Miranda
Aquila Rocha Miranda
 
February 27, 1969
Hiroko Hiraoka
Irineu Mamede
(In Manaus)
Hiroko Hiraoka
Manuel Barros

So Hiroko had been with On in Brasilia!

The pair weren't travelling with anyone else. Though it seems they'd been enjoying the Brazilian carnival in Sao Paulo immediately before flying to Brasilia. It seems like a number of Japanese people had met up. Had they come from New York?

A little Google research tells me that four of them - Sachiko Koshikoku, Tomoshige Kusuno, Etsuko Kondo and Kazuo Wakabayashi - were artists born in Japan but who had emigrated to Brazil. The dynamic art scene in this particular city was supported by Sao Paulo Museum of Art and the Sao Paulo Biennale.

I have emailed Tomoshige Kusuno, as at 87 he still seems to have a social media presence. Perhaps he will recall the atmosphere of Sao Paulo in 1969, and the part On an Hiroko played in it.

Meanwhile, on to Brasilia. I now understand that Hiroko and On would have been enjoying a rest in the aftermath of what may have been a very sociable week in Sao. An opportunity to chill out, chat together and Date Paint?

I'm beginning now to think that On Kawara chose these 'I MET's because of the satisfying visual patterns made by his movement over the newly designed city's streets.

Arrival day:

February 21, 1969
Hiroko Hiraoka
Irineu Mamede

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Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

From the airport to the hotel. Who was Irineu Mamede? Perhaps a member of hotel management staff. Perhaps it doesn't matter. Perhaps Hiroko and On were doing what I'm doing: thinking about and discussing their friend, Tomoshige Kusuno, who they'd left behind in Sao Paulo.

Tomo-shige Kus-un-o (I believe it's pronounced) had been born in Yubari, northern Japan, in 1935, and left his homeland for Brazil in 1960. If you recall, On Kawara was born in mid-Japan in December 1932 and left Japan for Mexico in 1959. Of course, the same bombs had fallen on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in southern Japan in August 1945, when On had been twelve and Tomoshige 10. Children of the same trauma; artists of the same background radiation.

Here is one of Tomoshige Kusuno's paintings, from 2010, which shows the artist (black silhouette in foreground, carrying suitcases) on his journey (train on left, ship on right) to and into Brazil.

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My Arrival in Brazil, Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder, Tomoshige Kusuno.

The image below seems to relate to Japan's catastrophe. Or at least Tomoshige Kusuno's attempt to process it in 1977.There are some things that language cannot cope with. There are some experiences that the human mind finds it impossible to process. And what is the resultant emotion?

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder, Tomoshige Kusuno.

Below is a work of art that Tomoshige Kusuno made between 1981 and 1985. My first thought was that it appeared to illustrate an atomic bomb falling on South America.

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder, Tomoshige Kusuno.

Then I realised that man doesn't need to go to the trouble of dropping any more atomic bombs. Simply by cutting down the Amazon Rain Forest we are sealing our doom. Catastrophic global warming: no mushroom cloud necessary.

The Facebook page for Tomoshige Kusuno may be administered by his daughter, Akemi. The page gives access to a 25-minute film Tomoshige Kusuno: Existence in Pulses, that was made by Akemi Kusono and uploaded to Youtube in 2018. Here we meet the old artist in what I take to be the grounds of his house in Sao Paulo, doing his bit towards clearing the rain forest. I don't mean that, of course. Rather, he's still raking over the ruins of Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder, Akemi Kusuno.

In the ashes of the fire, Timoshige Kusuno sees 6 AUG.1945 and 9 AUG.1945, just as clearly as On Kawara could. I have just remembered that in the letter that Hiroko wrote to Kasper König in July of 1969, she mentioned that On had just got the all clear for cancer. I had assumed that this was about his smoking. I now realise it may have been to do with fear of the impact of radiation poisoning from 1945.

Akemi Kusono's video is in Portuguese, so I don't know what the elderly artist says. But he clearly speaks with passion and is still intent on expressing himself in imaginative ways. I think he designed and constructed his own house, which is stuffed with art made from multifarious materials and techniques.


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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder, Akemi Kusuno.

Tomoshige seems philosophical as well as remaining passionate, personal and political. (I feel I can say all that just by looking at the tender film.) While watching him pad about the house, sweeping the floor, stroking his dogs, I couldn't help but think of the kind of elderly gentleman-artist that On Kawara became. But I don't suppose that's fair on either Kawara or Kusuno. They led parallel lives - full lives, intellectual lives, family lives - but clearly they were their own unique individual selves.


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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder, Ashemi Kusuno.


And so we say farewell to Brasilia, 1929. Tomoshige and the other artists from Sao Paulo may have been puzzled by On and Hiroko's decision to spend a week in the boring capital of Brazil when they could have remained in some combination of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro for another week. And they may have been puzzled by On's explanation that he was going to Brasilia to paint the date on February 22, 23 24 (twice) and 25.

As I suggest, On and Hiroko may have discussed the Sao Paulo art scene, and their friends, while staying in this uncompromisingly non-art environment.

And, with On's Date Paintings safely packed away, on February 27, 1929, they were driven to the airport in order to fly on to Manaus. From over-regulated civilisation to out-and-out jungle?

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Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

It has to be be admitted that the main use I've made of the 'I MET' lists for February 21 to February 27, this second time around, has been to introduce me to Tomoshige Kusuno. But it has also told me that Hiroko had been with On throughout that week. Which leads to the question: when exactly did Hiroko join On Kawara on his tour of South American cities?

First, I remind myself of his itinerary. Down (red line) the western edge of the continent from September to December, 1968. Returning (blue line) to Mexico from January to April, 1969, via several stops in Brazil in particular. I've marked Say Paulo in yellow to acknowledge its special status as visual arts centre for the continent.

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When considering this trip without seeing any 'I MET', and before realising that On and Hiroko travelling together was a big part of their life from 1973 onwards, I felt safe in assuming that On had been travelling alone. Though I did speculate that Hiroko might have joined him to stay at the luxurious hotel in Santiago. Was I about to learn the truth of Hiroko's coming and going?

Anyway, I wrote again to AGO as follows:

Dear Ref Desk AGO,

On Kawara was in Mexico for six months from April 1968. I had assumed that when he then went on a tour of South American cities that he did that on his own. The info you kindly sent me last week tells me that Hiroko Hiraoka was with him in Sao Paulo, Brasilia and Manau in early 1969. I would like to find out when Hiroko joined him, and if she came and went, and if anyone else travelled with them. Accordingly, I would be most grateful if you could provide the 'I MET' lists for the following days:

27 Sept. 1968 (Bogota)

8 Oct.1968 (Quito)

12 Oct.1968 (Lima)

21 Oct. 1968 (Santiago)

26 Nov. (Buenos Aires)

1 Dec. 1968 (Montevideo)

18 Jan. 1969 (Asuncion)

21 Jan. 1969 (Foz Do Iguaçu)

23 Jan. 1969 (Sao Paulo: first time around)

7 Feb. 1969 (Rio De Janeiro)

Thanks in anticipation.

Best wishes,
Duncan

I waited anxiously for the reply. Suddenly (as usual) these seemed like the only 'I MET' lists that matter. And yet, I kept fearing, it was surely one request for information too many.

Straw. Camel's back. Broken?…Straw. Camel's back. Broken… But, no; miracle of miracles, I have the business-like reply, as ever:

Hello Duncan,

The following names are listed on the dates listed in your email:


September 27, 1968
Hiroko Hiraoka
Luis Roberto Sanchez F.

October 8, 1968
Hiroko Hiraoka
Maria Eugenia Escobar A.

October 12, 1968
Hiroko Hiraoka
Cesar Falcon
Herbert Hussek
Gertrude Hussek
Raquel Jodorowsky

October 21, 1968
Hiroko Hiraoka

November 26, 1968
Hiroko Hiraoka
Jose Padin
Carlos Silva
Ary Brizzi
Martin Micharvegas

December 1, 1968
Hiroko Hiraoka

January 18, 1969
Hiroko Hiraoka
Rafael Franco
Siusto Castor Reyes

January 21, 1969
Hiroko Hiraoka
Javier Dario Bravo

January 23, 1969
Hiroko Hiraoka
Bin Kondo
Patricio Victoriano Laudeira Lopex
Augusto Valeriano
Emiko Araki
Etsuko Kondo
Naoto Kondo
Yukio Suzuki
Yoichi Nakakura
Soichi Suzuki
Kazuhiro Asada
Yasue Imayuki
Kazuo Wakabayashi
Hikari Wakabayashi
Tomishige Kusuno
Tokuji Ito
Mutsuko Ito
Tetsuo Nomura

February 7, 1969
Hiroko Hiraoka
Linda Burlamaqui
Yoshio Tanaka

Regards,
Reference Desk

Edward P. Taylor Library & Archives


I see that on the first visit to Sao Paulo, on January 23, 1969, On and Hiroko again met several of the Japanese/Brazilian art scene. That's to say these name are common to both Jan 23 and Feb.21:
Tomoshige Kusuno, Etsuko Kondo and Kazuo Wakabayashi.

But wait one moment! What has to be said up front is that the very first name on all ten of these lists is Hiroko
Hiraoka. And I now have three dates from 1969 - three out of seventeen that I have 'I MET' data for - where the only person that On met in a 24-hour period was Hiroko. Three cheers for this hard-won fact:

October 21, 1968; Santiago… Hiroko!

December 1, 1968; Montevideo… Hiroko!

February 24, 1969; Brasilia... Hiroko!

The second thing to be said, is that 'I MET' is making something of a late appearance in public. Originally, On Kawara conceived 'I MET' as one of a triptych of self-observation series. Actually, 'I GOT UP AT' and 'I MET' came first, beginning on May 10, 1968, while 'I WENT' began a few weeks later on 1 JUNE, 1968.

From the beginning, On Kawara was a bit cagey about making 'I MET' available to the public, possibly out of respect for other people's privacy. However, as already mentioned, there were seven days' worth printed in
On Kawara: continuity/discontiuity. And the whole month of July 1968 was made available in On Kawara: Whole and Parts. However, this was something of a neutral month, spent in Mexico City, away from Hiroko or On's New York friends; so it wasn't giving much away, as I found out when I tried to analyse those lists in my 1968 essay.

In 2000, Kasper K
önig arranged for On Kawara Horizontality/Verticality to be published, consisting of 'I WENT' on each left-hand page and both sides of the 'I GOT UP AT' postcard on the right hand. The format seems to have an air of inevitability about it. But not so. Take the first of the dates newly supplied to me, September 27, 1968. The left-hand page could have been designed so as to include both 'I WENT' and 'I MET', like so:

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Reproduced and amended with the forbearance, I hope, of the One Million Years Foundation.

Whe
n this is seen in juxtaposition with the corresponding I GOT UP AT, you get the whole 'I GOT UP AT', 'I WENT', 'I MET' picture for 27th of September, 1968:

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Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

You might notice a stylistic disparity between the date stamps. The postcard would have been stamped on the day itself. The 'I WENT' and 'I MET' were often created in draft form to begin with, and On Kawara would catch up with himself when he had a moment in his studio. So the date stamp was more likely to be the same one on the 'I MET' and 'I WENT'. Though, of course, strictly speaking it should have been exactly the same format date stamp on all three.

Anyway, I don't think I'll do any more of these conflated 'I WENT' maps and 'I MET' lists, at least not for now. I'd rather focus on redressing the balance between 'I MET' and 'I WENT'. Accordingly, here is an amalgam of 'I GOT UP AT' and 'I MET' for the next day on the recently supplied list of South American dates from AGO:

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Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the One Million Years Foundation.

Get it, Kasper? On Kawara got up. He went walking with Hiroko from his hotel in Quito, and in his travels they encountered one Maria Eugenia Escobar A. That's a rather strange way of recording her name, with the A as a distinct initial. Just as in the Bogota 'I MET' the name Luis Roberto Sanchez F., gave the same treatment to the 'F'. Perhaps, at this stage, On was still thinking of the poetic quality of the names he was recording.

When I Google 'Maria Eugenia Escobar' along with 'Quito', I get this:

'There are no limits to imagination, nor to taking on new challenges, regardless of age, says María Eugenia Escobar, 78 years old. Three months ago, the septuagenarian entered the field of micro-entrepreneurs.

'Every day María Eugenia attends the Padre Ilean center, located next to the Pastorcito de Fátima Church in Recreo (Durán-Guayas), where she shows all her creativity. In the place - which she and her colleagues have turned into a small workshop -, the smiles and the cries of 'pass me the rubber' mix while they make various articles in which she uses recycled materials. Thus the hours pass until mid-afternoon. “There is no day that is missing because I feel productive here,” she says as she shows one of the stools made from plastic bottles.'


That's from 2022. Which means that this Maria Eugenia Escobar would have been 25 in 1969. So it's feasible that it's the same person. But one cannot let 53 years pass and expect to be able to accurately trace an individual from a mere name. Can you?

Onto the next AGO-supplied date. The conjoined I MET and I GOT UP AT has a certain restrained beauty about it:

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Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the One Million Years Foundation.


On Kawara got up at 9.30. He went walking with Hiroko from his hotel in Lima, and in his travels they encountered Cesar Falcon, Herbert Hussek, Gertrude Hussek and Raquel Jodorowsky. A meal shared with fellow guests at the hotel? One feels pretty sure that Googling is not going to help in this instance. Having said that, let's give 'Raquel Jodorowsky' a spin as that is not Spanish… Ha! It seems she was a writer of Ukranian immigrant parents. A fuller name is given than On Kawara recorded, but I imagine it's the same person as the name would have been unusual in Peru, and it does seem to have been shortened to Raquel Jodorowsky for everyday purposes and on the covers of her many books.

Raquel Lea Jodorowsky Prullansky (Tocopilla, May 24, 1927-Lima, August 23, 2011); was a Chilean poet, writer and painter. Known as "the butterfly carved in iron", she lived in Peru since the early 1950s. Her style has been described as dreamlike and surrealist.

Here she is:

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She would have been 42 when On and Hiroko encountered her. 'Butterfly carved in iron'. On Kawara would have appreciated that. And I've no reason to suppose that Hiroko wouldn't have been impressed also. One begins to realise that meeting people might have been one of the pleasures of travel that On and Hiroko became so attached to.

On the other hand, there were those days just spent in each other's company:

9uQvXO%nQX+aeqWTyiWNag_thumb_e09c
Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the One Million Years Foundation.


On and Hiroko got up at eleven-ish and wandered the streets of Santiago. Dog days: days marked by lethargy, in-jokes and indolence. Alternatively named by On Kawara and Hiroko Hiraoka, while exploring the streets of Santiago, as 'livery design days'.

I seem to have forgotten that On made a Date Painting on October 21. It's sub-title was the medals table for the 1968 Olympics that were held in Mexico. So it's possible that On never left the hotel room, his attention oscillating between the Olympics - watched on what would have been a black-and-white telly - and his developing Date Picture.

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Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.


Dear reader, I hope you are enjoying this 'I GOT UP AT'/'I MET' tour of South America. Feast your eyes on the next stage of our journey, Buenos Aires:

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Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the One Million Years Foundation.


Here is a biographical note on Carlos Silva. In it, there are hints as to why he may have been met this day in 1969 by On and Hiroko

'Carlos Silva was born in 1930 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was a self-taught painter, graphic artist and textile designer. In 1965 he participated in the Sao Paulo Biennial.

'He exhibited in numerous galleries of Buenos Aires as well as in Chicago, New York, Caracas, Paris and Japan. In 1981 the Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art gave him a retrospective.'


I wonder if we will be equally lucky with the next name: Ary Brizzi:

'Ary Brizzi (1930) was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he developed a career as a painter, sculptor and designer. In 1965 he represented Argentina at the 8th São Paulo Biennial. The Argentine government sent him to the United States in 1968, as a member of the exhibitions 'Four New Argentine Artists', at the Bonino Gallery (New York), and 'Beyond Geometry', at the Center for Inter-American Relations (New York).'

With only two gauchos in the postcard's saddle. My hopes are not high as I Google 'Martin Micharvegas'. But more success:

'Argentine poet, musician, painter, doctor... (b. Buenos Aires, 1935). In 1971 he recorded in Paris his first album for Moshé-Naïm "Décadas". In 1976 he exiled himself to Brazil and later to Spain, where he settled.'

If he left Argentina for good in 1966, he may not be the right man.

Martin Micharvegas died in 2016. Ary Brizzi died in 2014. Carlos Silva died in 1987. Here is a quote from the latter:

“I became aware of vitality, which is the most important ingredient. Without this the art work is dead, lacking continuity in time...”

Carlos Silva has a website dedicated to him, which is where that quote comes from. Here is a painting from the year he met On and Hiroko:

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Brissos, tempera sober papel, 1969. © 2016 Carlos Silva and his heirs.


Where next? The postcard for the 1st of December suggests the docks at Montevideo. Just the two of them that day: On Kawara and Hiroko.

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Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the One Million Years Foundation.

They didn't get up until 1pm. No time for Date Painting then. But the day's 'I WENT' reveals that On and Hiroko's excursion took them to two beauty spots (away from the docks on the left edge of the below map).

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Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the One Million Years Foundation.

I'm talking about their stops to the east of their hotel, where their route appears to be a triangle. Assuming they took the southerly route outward, they first went around a park just above a beach, and stopped, it seems to me, at a government building. At least that's what it is on the current Google map, and it's clearly been there for a long time. After that, they went to the beach on the bottom right edge of the map, Playa Pocitos.

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After that they went north and took a walk in some parkland. The most northernmost part of the route seems to have been aloof around this piece public sculpture which has been there since the 1930s. Monumenta la Carta, depicts a wagon and oxen straining in their efforts to pull it along.

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On: "Remind you of anything?"

Hiroko: "The trouble I have getting you out of bed some days."

On: "Sorry about this morning."

Hiroko: "And the first hour of this afternoon!"

On: "I've caused us to miss the best part of the day."

Hiroko: "Never mind, my love. There is nowhere I'd rather be than here by your side."

On: "You are all around me."

Silence.

On: "OK is OK says OK OK?"

Hiroko: "OK OK puts up with OK."

On: "OK, OK OK."

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Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the One Million Years Foundation.

Sadly, I can say nothing about the two Spanish-named people that On Kawara met on the 18th of January in Asuncion. There was a Rafael Franco who was President of Paraguay for a while, but he was dead by 1979. I think Franco is a common name in Spain, and in ex-Spanish colonies.

The Kawaras were long enough in Asuncion for On to complete two Date Paintings. But let's hurry on to Foz do Iguacu in Brazil, which is just one stop away from Sao Paulo and famous for its waterfalls.

On and Hiroko have come to this part of Brazil to see the world-famous waterfalls. They arrived on the 19th of January. I haven't seen the 'I WENT' for that day, but it might be much the same as the next two. On Jan. 20, On and Hiroko took the road to the airport, but went past it
en route to see the waterfalls at Cataratas. Then they retraced their route back to the hotel on Avenida Brazil.

The next day the map is almost identical, but instead of going to the waterfalls, their destination was simply the airport.

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Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the One Million Years Foundation.

I imagine 'Javier Dario Bravo' was their driver. Perhaps he was also their driver on the previous day, for the trip to see the waterfalls, but I am not going to ask Art Gallery Ontario to confirm that. That's another 'last straw' possibility, and I don't want to risk it for such a passing detail.

Two of the Spanish names recently encountered have a similar feel. I mean Siusto Castor Reyes, from 18 January in Asunsion, and Javier Dario Bravo in Foz do Igacu. Or is it just the unfamiliarity of the syllables to my eye?

Anyway, look we have now got back to Sao Paulo, where this essay began. On January 23, the day after their arrival in the city, On and Hiroko got up in their hotel room in the middle of the city (top of map).


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Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the One Million Years Foundation.

The day was dominated by a trip off the south edge of the map, to what I think was a house party at Vila Olimpia at 158 Avenue Dr. Cardosa De Mello. They met a lot of people that day.

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Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the One Million Years Foundation.

Perhaps the previous evening's entertainment had gone on until after midnight, which was why the artist Bin Kondo was met early in the day. And the two Spanish names near the top of the list might be something to do with the hotel also. Fellow guests at breakfast, or friendly staff that had introduced themselves to On and Hiroko during their stay?

The latter part of the day feels like it was dominated by a party involving Brazilian-Japanese artists. A number of these people were present a month later, on Feb. 23, 1969, when On and Hiroko left Sao Paulo for Brasilia, which is where this essay started. I have marked them in red in the following paragraph.

Etsuko Kondo was an artist, possibly related to Bin Kondo but I have yet to confirm that. I can see that there were several pairs in attendance. Apart from On and Hiroko, there were the Kondos (Etsuko and Naoto), the Suzukis (Soichi and Yukio), the Wakabayashis (Kazuo and Hikari) and the Itos (Mutsuko and Tetsuo). And those not obviously in a pair? Yoichi Nakakura, Kazuhiro Asada, Yasue Imayuki, Tomoshige Kusuno and Tetsuo Nomura.

OK let the party commence. Perhaps it was unfair to portray Tomoshige Kosuno as an elderly man earlier on. This was more like what he looked like in 1969. Young, handsome, smart, cool…

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder.

Tomoshige and Kazuo Wakabayashi would have had much in common with On. The latter was born in 1931 and left Japan for Brazil in 1961. Like Timoshige, Kazuo exhibited in New York as well as Sao Paulo. He was part of the Ninth Sao Paulo Biennial of 1967. Below is an example of his work. Vivid abstractions containing monochromatic fields, textural brushwork and encrusted collage elements.

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder.

Why did so many Japanese artists go to Brazil around 1960? Perhaps this former Portuguese colony was more open to foreign talent than the old Spanish colonies which may have been content to be inspired by such Spanish masters as El Greco and Velazquez.

Following his six months in Mexico (as well as his earlier stay there), On would be in good position to discuss the triangle that existed between Tokyo, South America and New York. He wasn't yet famous himself, but this group of artists clearly had a strong sense of identity and had no problem including On and Hiroko.

Last image to Tomoshige.

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder, Tomoshige Kusuno.

A feel-good Brazilian beach scene. Is that David Hockney leaping to catch the volleyball on the right?

Though what's that falling from the sky? And what exactly is it falling from?

You can take the artist out of Japan. But you can't take Japan out of the artist.

A Bigger Splash, says it all.

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Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the One Million Years Foundation.


On Kawara. He got up. He went places. He met people. He met, he met and he met. What an achievement it was to be as alive as that!

Which leads me to put it this way. We get up. We go somewhere special (all places are special). And we meet some special people (all people are special).

On Kawara. He got up. He went places. He met people. He made a bigger splash. That same bigger splash that we can all make.

Kasper König (regarding his 274th postcard from On Kawara in the last year): "I don't believe it! Finally, he has truly got up! He is in Rio with Linda and Yoshio! Quick, Lilli, book me a flight to Rio,
pronto."

Kasper's in-flight entertainment happened to be this timeless song, courtesy of (and after) Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music:

"Make me a deal and make it straight,
All signed and sealed, I'll take it
To On Kawara, I'll show it.
I hope and pray he don't blow it, 'cause
We've been around a long time
Just tryin' to, tryin' to…
So make the big time.

"Take me on a roller-coaster
Take me for an airplane ride
Take me for a six-day wonder, but
Don't you… don't you throw my pride aside, besides…
What's real and make-believe
Baby Jane's in Acapulco
We're all flyin' down to Rio-o-o-o!!!!…

"Throw me a line, I'm sinkin' fast,
Clutching at straws, can't make it!
Havana sound, we're trying,
Hard-edge, the hipster jiving.
Last picture shows down the drive-in:
You're so sheer, you're so chic
Teenage rebel of the week…

"Flavours of the mountain stream-line,
Midnight-blue casino floors.
Dance the cha-cha through till sunrise,
Opens up exclusive doors, oh wow!
Just like flamingos, look the same,
So me and you, just we two,
Got to search for something new…

"Far beyond the pale horizon,
Some place near the desert strand,
Where my Studebaker takes me,
That's where I'll make my stand, but wait:
Can't you see that Holzer mane'
What's her name? Hiroko Fame."