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    Sale 2602

    Asian Contemporary Art (Evening Sale)

    24 May 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 168


    Price Realised  


    (Born in 1967)
    negative cast, fiber plaster, polyurethane, model train installation art
    175 x 125 x 586 cm. (68 3/4 x 49 1/4 x 230 3/4 in.)
    Executed in 2004

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    The intricate patterns are piled into a crescendo, completely and beautifully embellishing the initial form of Minsk (fig.1), almost swallowing every possible military relic that could interrupt the audience's search for a legendary tale with its disparaging reminder of the purpose of the Minsk; a warship for aircraft carriers that served the Soviet Navy and later the Russian Navy from 1978 to 1994. It has been refurbished into a talismanic personal work of Yasuyuki Nishio. The strictly military, Kiev-class vessel is redefined into a seemingly ornamental commemoration until the delicate artistic process and the depth of its relevance is realized.

    Regressing back to Nishio's trajectory, when the rumor that the Soviet Union warship was at the North Sea of Japan, he compared his excitement to the anticipation of the apparition of U.F.O. With this wistful memory, Nishio created the phantom of Minsk (Lot 168), mummifying it in exquisite details, preserving his supernatural fantasy of Minsk from the past. Indicating Minsk as an archaic commodity, the organic configuration of the sculpture impersonates a form of algae biologically invading surfaces of deserted industrial materials, signifying the lengthy measure of time.

    Redolent of the sculpture and earthenware from the Japan's Jomon era, the exterior marking of Minsk mimics the literal definition of 'Jamon', a pattern of rope. The wet soil was contoured with hands to decorate clay vessels and figurines with impressive lines of braided or unbraided rope, unavoidably analogous to ornate construction of Nishio's sculpture. In further accuracy, Minsk predominantly extracts the qualities of Dogu (fig.2); clay humanoid from the Jomon period. The sturdily engraved lines and twirls exhibit the primitive infatuation and ritualistic attribute of the ethics of the period. Dogu also manifested sympathetic and mysterious symbolism as a primitive effigy, used for exorcism, fertility, religious and primitive sacrament. Like so, the steadily compiled patterns unveil Nishio's zealous concentration and dedication that appear almost ritualistic in production.

    Mathematically calculated in preparation, the artist generates spiritual yet mature response to his material, dramatically altering the initial formal components of the work. He brought material qualities to forefront of planned representation, affirming his visceral mannerism by preserving the crude color of clay to heighten the seductive complexity of the raw texture; moreover retaining to the primeval aspect, in result, reinforcing the mythical value along with the hallucinatory scale of the ship. The practical and esoteric mannerism co-exists in the structure of the pattern due to his acute self-awareness of the limitation of his own psychological and physical production. The physical performance of the creative process is deceptively allegorical as he channels his motifs from nature through his own body. Exploiting the procedure of negative casting, Nishio works from the inside out, in superimposed composition or as quoted by the artist 'a fetus insisting on its existence to the world outside the womb'; echoing his working concept with its outcome in producing an enthralling visual honesty of Nishio's inner nature. He solely relies his artistic creation to be bred by dualism; a belief of two independent constituents, the body and the mind. The skin behaves as a territorial barrier for the two natures into an internal and external environment. His inborn magnificence in technical virtuosity in every genre of artistic creation including, painting, drawing and sculpture amplifies his sagacity in using his body as a tool to create the utmost natural form of a product.

    The cathartic technique of touching the oil clay to bring his desired object into solid existence with his own visual construal, Nishio inaudibly reveals his fixation on the notion of ownership. Personalization of an object is an expressive specificity of stating an ownership over an object wherein, the artist willfully and literally exploits precisely this in his refusal to utilize tools, leaving fingerprints that judiciously harmonize with the rhythmic swirls of his repetitive adornment. The concept of matter as a tangible substance and as a collectible for ownership, Nishio recreates Minsk into a form of a toy. In which, in actuality, the original Minsk now functions as a military theme park 'Minsk World' in Shatoujia, Shenzhen. The drastic transformation of what was once a perilous weapon in an armed conflict, into what is now a facility for pure entertainment gives an emphasis to its inoperative and lifeless status, yet again bringing out the eerie apparition of the ship.

    The significance of his working scheme is appropriately figurative to his philosophical probity, as he constructs a toy mobile train that circulates inside the ship like the live 'fetus insisting on its existence to the world outside the womb.' With the moving train inside the ostensibly ghostly ship, he strenuously accentuates that one can gain a spiritual awakening of the essence of existence, physicality and being through the production of an object (mobility of the train) from nonentity (immobility of the ship). Nishio in creative sophistication assimilates this theory in the negative/positive casting of his sculpture, consequently, as a nature of law, entailing the subtraction and carving of hollow spaces to emphasize the remainder of existent elements. The absolute schism of life and death is harmonized into the same sensation in his aptitude to absorb Buddhist ideals into his work. Death is not the end of life but rather a door that grants you a new life, hence, reincarnation. The impermanence of life is attributable to the spirit that steadily remains throughout, even after adopting a new body and new life. Inherently dual in nature, the spiritual and physical; the artist artistically performs his religious theory and dualism philosophy in striking visual synchronicity.

    Nishio molds waves of exquisite forms in ardent diligence with precision and regularity. In this, the audience is able to distinguish the apollonian spirit of the artist and his exceptional attachment to the subject itself. His work shifts identification as both sculpture and installation, visceral and intellectual, object and image and life and death. Layered with hybrid intricacy of negative and the positive, Minsk with its majestic posture and meticulous embellishment not only visually stimulate with mystical enchantment but also internally stimulate the psyche into finely tuned consciousness of what it means to be alive within the larger ecology of living things.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that Lot 168 has been published in:

    High Energy Field, exh. cat., KPO Kirin Plaza Osaka, Tokyo, Japan, 2004, not paginated. (illustrated)

    Art and Object: Affinity of the Jomon and the Contemporary, exh. cat., Aomori Museum of art, Aomori, Japan, 2006, page 34 & 43 (illustrated).


    Tokyo & Osaka , Japan, Hi-Energy Field, Kirin Plaza Osaka & Tamada Project Art Space, 2004.
    Aomori, Japan, Aomori Museum of Art, Art and Object: Affinity of the Jomon and the Contemporary, 2006.