INTERVIEW WITH YASUAKI ONISHI
Yasuaki Onishi is a Japanese artist who works with sculpture and installation. His works are the protagonists of exhibitions all over the world and accompany the visitor in a suspended world, created by the volumes of the contours drawn by the artist with different materials. In these cavities the visitor is invited to stationary and explore, to fill the space with a new vision of the world, from a new perspective.
All images © courtesy of Yasuaki Onishi
Reverse of Volume ACAC - 2009 - Aomori Contemporary Art Centre, Aomori Japan
Photo: Tadasu Yamamoto
In recent years, in Japan, painting is very common between artist. How
did you decide to approach sculpture and installation?
I was interested in the process of "molding" in the production of
sculptures, and I felt that I could see the invisible parts. At first, I
made works using various methods such as metal sculptures in the shape
of wood and photographs of sparks cut from metal. Then, I feel
that creating a site-specific installation that can only be established
on the spot has led to the current production.
How do you practically proceed in the realization of your works, from
design to final installation?
I like the moment when I imagine my work in the still empty exhibition space.
We decide a rough size based on the drawings and photos
of the exhibition place and plan. But we often change plans while working.
I cherish the "sense of filling the space" that I can actually feel in that place.
Vertical Volume SMOA - 2009 - Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul Korea
Work in process Ditch of Time, Edge of Space
photo: Minako Yoshida
The materials you use are very particular; can you tell us about this
choice? Can you also tell us something about the choice of colors?
Many of the materials used in my work are humble and common. I feel
that the rest of the traces that I have modified is just right. I also
think that the material is not intimidating and is suitable for
expressing cavities. Even if not all materials are common, it may be
important to make the viewer unconsciously feel that they are not a big
deal. There aren't many works in which I have used colors; but in 2018 I used
colorful paper roll for a work named Tracing orbit.
Do you believe that your art is linked to the contemporary or can it
also work in other periods?
I want to make something that works not only in the present but also in the
future. I would like to create a project in which a part of the work and
the relationship with the viewer suggest how the world and society in which
we live is.
Vertical Emptiness FP - 2016 - Yarid Hamizrach, Tel Aviv Israel
Cerculation of Water - 2018 - Bandaijima Multipurpose Plaza, Niigata Japan
In your works the visitor is often involved and pushed to enter. What
is the feeling and the message you want your installation to convey?
I hope that you will have the opportunity to see this world from a
different position than before.
The minimal style of your works recalls your Japanese cultural
background. Do you think it was important for your artistic evolution?
Do you find differences in the viewer's reactions to your art in
different parts of the world?
There is "beauty in the emptiness" in the history of Japanese art. In
particular, the method of expressing the expanse and distance of space
in the unpainted margins may have some influence on my work.
Through exhibitions in various places around the world, I felt that the
concept of emptiness and void is very different for the viewer. It's a
big discovery for me and the potential of the work. I want to create a
place that encourages the viewer to pour something into the cavity with
their own imagination.
Empty Sculpture - 2014 - Solo exhibition / ARTCOURT Gallery, Osaka Japan
Photo: Seiji Toyonaga
Tracing orbit - 2018 - 5 Rooms II – THE TRUTH IS IN THE AIR / Kanagawa Prefectural Gallery, Yokohama Japan
Photo: Takeru Koroda
Is there any work you feel more attached to?
It is a work named Reverse of volume in which a black glue is hangs a
polyethylene sheet in a mountain-like shape. The work expanded on a
large scale and became an opportunity to participate in exhibitions all
over the world.
Do you have any future project in mind? Something you're already
Currently, a project is underway to create a new work in collaboration
with a company that handles metal leaf and powder in Kyoto. I can't wait to see it becoming a work with a very different shape than before.
Reverse of volume RG - 2012 - Solo exhibition / Rice Gallery, Houston TX USA
Photo: Nash Baker
Darkness Thing - 2003 - C print