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(Work in Progress, with the participation of Jean-Sébastien Grill, Sébastien Leseigneur)
Exhibition La Légende du Grand Judo at L'Échappée Belle in Sète
Judo Saga is the title of the first full length feature of Akira Kurosawa* in which the protagonist, Sugata Sanshiro, undertakes learning Judo. In spite of his talent, the film’s hero struggles with his personal demons. He is then put to the test by his master and must surpass himself in order to realize his destiny as a man.
The project evokes the journey undertaken by the young Yves Klein as a judoka and focuses upon his experience in Japan where he obtained the 4th Dan , at the Judo Kodokan institute, reaching the highest level of any European. This was during the 1950’s, in an optimistic context of reconstruction of the country that the young gaijin dwelled in Tokyo in search of mental and technical perfection.
Back in France, his rank was not recognized by the French Judo Federation that he secretly dreamed of chairing and he did not obtain its validation until years later. He saw his ambition to make a career in the French athletic milieu largely frustrated. He nevertheless became a technical consultant of the Spanish Judo Federation and taught at the Bushido Kwai Club in Madrid where he hung next to the photograph of Jigoro Kano, the master and founder of Judo Kodokan, his first monochromes, a group of cardboard rectangles painted a single color.
Following a disagreement with the president of the Spanish Judo Federation, he decided to return to Paris and open his own dojo, at 104 Boulevard de Clichy, in which he also hung large monochromes in various colors, recalling the different Judo belts.
Unfortunately, he was envied and boycotted by his fellow judoka, Klein quickly went bankrupt and was forced to close his establishment after barely one year in operation. Obliged to abandon his initial project, he vacated the premises while taking with him the paintings that would soon make him one of the major artists of the 50’s and 60’s.
Judo, a great art of reversal, is the locomotive force in Klein’s work. By passing from dojos to art galleries, the judoka transformed his athletic failure into a social success. Guided by Jigoro Kano’s motto: “Minimum effort, maximum efficiency,” and guided by the the tatamis on which he had so long trained, Yves Klein thus made the monochrome his signature.
Frédéric Dialynas Sanchez, artists who is passionate about the land of the rising sun, have conducted research that has led him to the Judo Kodokan Institute in Tokyo, to the Bushido Kwai Gymnasium in Madrid, and to Yves Klein’s former dojo in Paris. The work that he is developing dives into the history of the monochrome and of judo, a dialogue between photography and painting, vintage video games** and geometric abstraction, minimal art and Zen culure***.
*Original title of the Japanese film: "Sugata Sanshiro", released in 1943
**Especially arcade games like “Breakout.”
***Meditative Buddhist sect of Chinese origin.