Art@Site Tajiri Shinkichi Friendship Knot

Tajiri Shinkichi


Friendship Knot

E 2nd Street. San Pedro Street
Shinkichi Tajiri: "Art today is so complicated. It’s a language and it’s changing very rapidly. But everybody has certain connotations and associations about knots. I was looking for instant communication. The knot is basic."
In 1967 Tajiri wanted to make a sculptural statement that would cut through all the mystification that he felt was invading the art scene. Tajiri aimed for a symbol of immediate recognition with a universal likeness, which he forged in varying patterns in polyester or bronze in his home foundry. Tajiri stated of the series, “Put a knot in the middle of a jungle, and everyone knows what it means.”

The presence of a tall white sculpture dominates the street entrance to Weller Court Plaza. This painted white fiberglass sculpture depicts the shape of a deceptively simple knot. The sculpture's dramatic design is both a focal point for Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Street and a welcome symbol for Weller Court by evoking ideas of reconciliation and "unity between two cultures."
Knots have been a design element in Tajiri's sculpture since the 1960s. The simple knot in this work evolved from the large intricate ones found in his earlier compositions. Originally this piece was located at Tajiri's home in the Netherlands and titled Square Knot. When it was shipped to Los Angeles, its name was changed to the Friendship Knot by the Friends of Little Tokyo Arts to transform the sculpture into a symbol of "unity between two cultures".
Tajiri, in consultation with representatives of the Friends of Little Tokyo Arts, the Community Redevelopment Agency and the architect for Weller Court, Kajima Associates, selected the Second Street entrance of Weller Court as the site for his work. Here, the stark white color of its fiberglass surface boldly contrasts with the muted beige veneer of the surrounding architecture, making Friendship Knot both a focal point for Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Street and a welcoming symbol to Weller Court.
The developer of Weller Court, the East West Development Corporation, fulfilled its percent-for-art requirement by contributing $40,000 toward the purchase of the sculpture while the remaining $35,000 was raised by FOLTA. Dedicated on August 5, 1981, as a memorial to Dr. Morinorsuke Kajima, the founder of the Kajima Corporation, the work was donated to the City of Los Angeles by FOLTA as a gift for the City's bicentennial.

From the publication: "Shinkichi Tajiri: Universal Paradoxes", 2015:
The paradoxes in the life and artworks of Shinkichi Tajiri (1923-2009) appear to be timeless and intercultural. As a result, they continue to appeal to familiar experiences among a lot of people. Tajiri’s life was not related to one specific culture: American because of place of birth, Japanese because of his parents, French because his career began in Paris, and Dutch because he lived for more than fifty years in the Netherlands.
This anthology comprises six essays which reflect from various perspectives on aspects of the timelessness and universal paradoxes in the life and work of Tajiri. Three themes are selected that could be considered as leitmotifs throughout his artistic career: the Knot, the Warrior, and the Wall.
The Warrior theme is a recurrent theme to purge himself of the horrors of the war. With the Knots he wanted to cut through all mystification that he felt was invading the art scene.
A son of Japanese parents, Shinkichi Tajiri (1923-2009) was a sculptor who was born in Los Angeles and grew up in San Diego, California. Tajiri is world-renowned for his friendship knots, which can be found all over the world including sites such as the Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles; Rockefeller Foundation, New York; and Bryeres, France. In 1953, the artist's work came to the attention of COBRA, an art group of revolutionary experimental artists and protestors from Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam. The Dutch group was drawn to Tajiri’s works and labeled him an abstract surrealist. Later in 1964, the artist and his family moved to Minnesota to the Art Institute of Minneapolis where he had a one-year visiting professorship with Arnold Herstand. During this time, Tajiri completed 25 bronze sculptures for an exhibit and created a monumental sculpture for St. Paul, Minnesota.
Shinkichi George Tajiri[1] (Los Angeles, 7 december 1923 - Baarlo, 15 maart 2009) was een Nederlands-Amerikaans beeldhouwer van Japanse afkomst (een nisei ofwel tweede-generatie-emigrant uit Japan). Ook hield hij zich bezig met schilderen, fotograferen en filmmaken.
Shinkichi Tajiri (born december 7, 1923-Baarlo, Netherlands, March 15, 2009) was a Dutch-American sculptor of Japanese ancestry (a nisei or second generation emigrant from Japan). He also painting, photography and filmmaking.