The work of Japanese sculptor Toshimasa Kikuchi is somehow bewilderingly obvious. With a background and training in restoration work on Buddhist sculptures and having thoroughly mastered the techniques of classical Japanese statuary, he uses wood to create pure forms – geometric and hydrodynamic, as well as figurative. His scientific repertoire is timeless (mathematics, engineering and natural history) but the materials he prefers are resolutely anchored in tradition and include Japanese cypress wood (hinoki), lacquer (urushi) and gold leaf (kinpaku).
The installation he is presenting at Asia Now brings together a series of slender lacquered wood sculptures that represent mathematical models, in the tradition of the famous photographs taken of such objects by Man Ray. Here, these abstract forms, hung from the ceiling like mobiles or placed on the ground like devotional pieces, display a level of skill and virtuosity that is rare in contemporary art. The works are perfect stalactites and eternal concretions that impress with their sculptural beauty at the same time as they open perspectives to a dimension that sculpture cannot attain – that of pure conceptual forms. The fusion between Art and Science at the heart of Kikuchi’s sculpture was primarily inspired by his work as a researcher at the Tokyo University Museum where he continues to organize exhibitions and restore old artworks.