I was in two minds whether to go and see the Chu Enoki exhibition at the White Rainbow gallery. The thing is, it’s mainly about guns. Not something I feel a need for in my life, to be honest. Unlike Enoki, who seems to have had a lifetime obsession with them, beginning when he was a child in the fifties, after the Second World War. But anyway, I took a look, and found that the effect was not what I had expected.
Enoki uses weapons as a critique of war. His sculpture AK-47/AR-15, which fills most of the gallery, is made up of rows of deactivated guns, combined into composites that bring together Russian Kalashnikov and American Colt guns.
They line up in silent, monumental ranks (each sculpture weighs more than twice as much as the real guns), a mute commentary on the years of the Cold War.
I found the display surprisingly peaceful. The rows of vertically-stacked guns lost their association with war and violence and became architectural and almost beautiful.
Also on display is Salute C2H2, one of a series of life-size cannon replicas that Enoki has created throughout his career.
He sometimes uses the cannons for performances at art events when he fires flowers from them. He has a special licence from the local police to use the cannons as an art project.
The exhibition also includes photographs of Enoki’s performance piece Going to Hungary with HANGARI. When he travelled to Hungary in 1977, Enoki shaved off all his hair on the right hand side (in Japanese the word hangari means ‘half-shaved’), A series of photos shows the reactions of people around him to his unusual appearance.
The White Rainbow Gallery is on Mortimer St, close to Oxford Circus and the exhibition continues until 11th April. The Gallery is open Tuesday to Friday 12 to 6 pm, Saturday 12 to 5 pm.