Books On Books Collection – Katsumi Komagata

Les Livres de … Katsumi Komagata
Jean Widmer
Paperback, 170 x 225 mm, 176 pages. Paris: Les Trois Ourses, 2013. Photos: Books On Books Collection.

A catalog raisonné from Komagata’s early employer. Its photography captures the subtle layers and shadows of Komagata’s cutouts and his brilliant handling of colours and typography. Given the ongoing output of Komagata’s firm One Stroke, another catalogue will be needed in a few more years.

A Cloud (2007)

A Cloud
Katsumi Komagata
Perfect bound within hinged whiteboard; H250 x W310 mm; 26 pages.
Tokyo: One Stroke, 2007. Photos: Books On Books Collection.

Komagata presents both a narrative and a cloudscape by combining a choice of different papers for each page with carefully placed die cuts of cloud shapes to match the French, English and Japanese texts.

Little tree/petit arbre (2008)

Little Tree/Petit arbre
Katsumi Komagata
Perfect bound in greyboard covers, gold-colored ink within hole-punched tree shape on front cover; card paper in various colours and textures; H210 x W210 mm; 28 pages.
Tokyo: One Stroke, 2008. Photos: Books On Books Collection.

The pop-up is a key part of Komagata’s signature techniques, which include the masterful use of different coloured and textured papers, ink and typography. While this video and the collection photos here may provide a balanced view of those elements, they do not convey the integral trilingual text that is far more than a narrative of this little tree’s appearance and disappearance.

Ichigu」(2015)

Ichigu」(2015)
Katsumi Komagata
Eight 4-panel cards in a box. H235 x 77 x 28 mm. Acquired from One Stroke, 26 March 2020. Photo: Books On Books Collection.

In Buddhism, the word Ichigu is associated with a particular saying from the monk Saicho (767-822): 隅を照らす Ichigu wo terasu, which means “Light up one corner”. The word can also denote “landscape”.

One side of each card is screen printed black; the other remains white. The cards offer a wealth of views — individually and combined — landscapes that change with the light and from one juxtaposition to another. Komagata’s works have a philosophical and emotional profundity that makes them cherished and frequently revisited items in this collection.

Further Reading

Huang, Honglan. “Komagata’s “Paperscapes”: Theatricality and Materiality in Blue to Blue“, Libri & Liberi, 2019, Vol.8 (2). Accessed 22 March 2020.

Kember, Pamela, Ed. “Katsumi Komagata“, Benezit Dictionary of Asian Artists. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Accessed 22 March 2020.

Komagata, Katsumi. “Los libros nacieron” / “The books were born“, at Ilustratour 2014. Accessed 22 March 2020. (Komagata reads A Cloud at mark 7’02” and comments on Little Tree at mark 9’19”.)

Books On Books Collection – Jenny Smith

Untitled (2006)

Untitled (2006)
Jenny Smith
Matte-beige slot-and-tab case containing eight-panel leporello, four panels lasercut and three screenprint. Case: 167 x 167 mm; Book: 165 x 165 mm.
Edition of 25 of which this is #21. Acquired from the artist, 31 July 2017. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

Photos: Books On Books Collection.

This portable sculpture echoes the tradition of Bruno Munari and Eleonora Cumer. The handling of ink from matte gray to silver to reflective black plays beautifully behind the vertical and

Book of Beads (2008)

Book of Beads (2008)
Jenny Smith
Case of beige matte-finish, screenprint black interior, title lasercut: 165 x 165 mm;
Book in accordion-fold, eight panels lasercut, taupe on one side, screenprint black on other, 160 x 160 mm
Edition of 20 of which this is #13. Acquired from the artist, 31 July 2017. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

Photos: Books On Books Collection.

The interlocking views of panels through panels foreshadow a work by Katumi Komagata:Ichigu(2015). The fine tendrils in the cutting may remind some of works by Béatrice Coron or Merrill Shatzman.

Little Black Book (2009)

Little Black Book (2009)
Jenny Smith
Matte-black slot-and-tab case containing matte-black single fold booklet; cover engraved with an abstract, calligraphic design that is cut out inside on the pop-up page and reappears in shadow against a gloss black screenprint insert behind the pop-up page. 
Case: 167 x 167 mm; Book: 160 x 160 mm; Pop-up page: H140 x W150 mm.
Edition of 20, of which this is #14. Acquired from the artist, 31 July 2017. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

Photos: Books On Books Collection.


Little Black Book exemplifies Smith’s exploration of writing as a form of drawing, which also often finds expression in site-specific work such as What is the most important decision you have made? (2013) in Cupar, Fife, Scotland, and What is Shadow? and What is Freedom? (2016) in the same vicinity.

The grassy nature of the 2013 installation and its engagement with children may remind the reader/viewer of Water on the Border (1994) by Helen Douglas and Telfer Stokes. For some, the interaction of cage and words in the 2016 installation may recall Bird Language (2003) by Xu Bing.

Further Reading

Medicinal Art”, Studio Pavilion, 19 September 2019. Accessed 2 May 2020.

Blakeley, Deborah. “Jenny Smith, Edinburgh, Scotland”, Zone One Arts, 1 November 2015. Accessed 2 May 2020.