His career began in 1968, when he started making ephemeral installations out of natural and industrial materials such as wood, metal, wire, and concrete. He quickly gained recognition for works such as Parallel Strata (1969), a rectangular enclosure constructed out of slabs of paraffin wax. By introducing an incongruous yet defined structure of raw material into the gallery space, he sought to reveal the reality of mono (things/materials), and the jōkyō (situation) that holds them together. With these installations and influential essays such as The Start of Disappearance: As Things Deny Things (1969) and Existence Beyond Condition (1970), Suga was identified as a key theorist within a loose group of like-minded artists that later came to be known as Mono-ha ( School of Things). Though short-lived, this movement was a major turning point in postwar Japanese art history, echoing the concurrent development of Land Art, Arte Povera, and Supports/Surfaces in the United States and Europe, yet rooted in a specifically Japanese intellectual and cultural context.
On the floor in the center of this exhibition is Placement of Stone Entities (1982/2017), an indeterminate arrangement of stone slabs linked by folded strips of black paper. This is the first time Suga has remade this work since its original inception at Tama Art University, Tokyo, in 1982. Typically he discards his installations at the close of each show and remakes them in accordance with the scale and character of a new site. In tandem with his installation practice, Suga has also made assemblages out of wood, metal, paint, mesh, stone, paper, and innumerable other materials. This exhibition provides a compact survey of this activity, ranging from small-scale reliefs made in the 1970s to his most recent large-scale constructions.