Born in Tochigi Prefecture in 1972, Satoru Tamura began his career as an artist after graduating from the University of Tsukuba in 1995. His works utilize electricity, essential to modern civilization and a key part of the social infrastructure. At times, electricity powers a rotating crocodile, at others, it transforms into a measuring device that quantifies beauty, and at still others, it lights a lamp through the placement of positive and negative electrodes within a hair’s breadth of each other. His works, large-scale “devices” that are reminiscent of amusement parks, overflow with an irony that might make us want to murmur “So what?” in spite of ourselves. They embody and express what the artist elucidates as his “desire to be free from the meanings, settings and functions that materials and forms possess.”
Electricity has become so deeply embedded in our daily lives and in industry that we now see it as a given. Should a blackout occur, we finally recognize how reliant we have become on electricity. Out of this most essential of resources to modern society, with touches of cynical humor, the artist creates artworks that are completely useless and unproductive as objects. His works are the epitome of fine art, which admits of no other purpose except its being viewed. Through this, they present a warning to a society in which utility is the sole priority.
Tamura’s solo exhibitions include Becoming 1 Ton, Tamura Satoru, Tochigi City Art Museum (Tochigi, 2022); Don’t Ask Why the Crocodiles Spin, MAKI Gallery (Tokyo, 2022); Spinning Crocodiles, Tamura Satoru, The National Art Center, Tokyo (Tokyo, 2022); TOKYO Machine, GINZA ATRIUM, GINZA TSUTAYA BOOKS (Tokyo, 2021); Domain of Art 22 Satoru Tamura Exhibition: Wall to Wall (Plaza North 10th Anniversary Exhibition), Plaza North, North Gallery (Saitama, 2019); and Point of Contact #6, LAGE EGAL RAUM FÜR AKTUELLE KUNST (Berlin, 2015).
He has participated in numerous group exhibitions in Japan and overseas, including The Method of Breathing World, Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art (Chiba, 2005) / Sakura City Museum of Art (Chiba, 2005); I am a Curator, Chisenhale Gallery (London, 2003); First Steps: Emerging Artists from Japan, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (New York, 2003); and NEO-TOKYO – Japanese Art Now, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (Sydney, 2001). Tamura has also received many awards including the International Light Art Award: First Prize (2017), The 12th Taro Okamoto Award for Contemporary Art Special Prize (2009), Philip Morris K.K. Art Award 2002: The First Move P.S.1 Art Award Special Prize (2002), and KIRIN CONTEMPORARY AWARD Encouragement Prize (1999).