Classically trained in both Japan and Italy, Kan Yasuda (B. 1945) is one of the pre-eminent contemporary Japanese sculptors. His minimalist, smoothly undulating works in marble and bronze are critically acclaimed in his native Japan and throughout Europe.
Yasuda, who has maintained a studio in Pietrasanta, Italy, for over 40 years, explores a way of being through nature, and talks of being guided by the voices of ‘souls buried in the earth’. He says he works ‘by imagining what the stones might be saying.’
The pieces on show in Kan Yasuda | Touching Time, a private selling exhibition that runs until 26 March at Christie’s New York, are both monumental and domestic in scale, and, says Jonathan Rendell, Christie’s Deputy Chairman and Senior Advisor, ‘[They] benefit from careful contemplation and contract with the machine age architecture of New York City against which they exert a powerful spiritual force.’
Kan Yasuda at Cave Henraux, Monte Altissimo, Italy. Photographer Nicola Gnesi
‘Kan Yasuda is an extraordinary sculptor,’ remarks the celebrated architect and engineer Renzo Piano, who comments on the way he goes in search of ‘the right stone inside the mountain’ — something that all the great sculptors to have worked in the Apuan Alps have done. Piano goes on to liken Yasuda’s works to ‘giant pebbles dragged through the streets by the current of an unlikely flood.’
The Hokkaido-born artist describes his practice as being ‘close to prayer’, and says he shifts ‘between consciousness and unconsciousness within the making of one sculpture.’ He states that the size does not matter to him, and that when he makes a small work, he visualises a large monumental sculpture; and when he makes a big monumental work, he imagines a small sculpture that can be held in the hands.
TENSHO, Arte Piazza Bibai, Kan Yasuda Sculpture Park, Hokkaido, Japan. Photographer Yoshihiro Kimurae
TENPI, Arte Piazza Bibai, Kan Yasuda Sculpture Park, Hokkaido, Japan. Photographer Yoshihiro Kimura
In this film, Yasuda talks of wanting ‘to express in a subtle way something of our relationship to the earth that is crying out in pain’, a feeling he articulates in the plinth he made for ISHINKI for the New York exhibition.
Kan Yasuda | Touching Time is on show until 26 March at Christie’s, 20 Rockeller Plaza, New York. Monday to Friday: 10am-5pm. Private viewings also available by appointment. For general inquries: firstname.lastname@example.org. Main image at top: The artist in his Studio. Photographer Nicola Gnesi
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