In Seek of a Sanctuary Essays

In Seek of a Sanctuary Essays

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Amongst the season of intense heat waves, hanabi festivals and beach parties, it is almost natural for us local Tokyoites to look for a place to cool down from the energetic summer hype. Composed of minimal representation of balance, meditation and stillness, Isao Sugiyama “Santuario” exhibition at Tokyo Gallery can be that sanctuary. An experience that do not only calms the body and the mind, the exhibition also at the same time portrays a less-seen style of art in the current trend: art devoid of shock value that emphasize on the calmness of senses rather than provocation.

Sugiyama’s influences are both from his European style sculptural background and his Japanese root that drives his aesthetic sense of simplicity and stillness. Graduated in 1977 from the sculpture department at Zokei University, he continued his education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrera, Italy. While living and working in Milan and Carrera, Sugiyama exhibited both in solo and group exhibitions mainly in European countries. “Santuario” marks Sugiyama’s solo exhibition in Tokyo first time in 20 years.

Sugiyama’s sculptures somewhat closely resemble Greece’s famous Meteora Monasteries in miniature, with a sprinkle of Asian twists. Standing on representational cliffs, the house-like structures, while seems neutral in marble, can also be closely identified with modern Japanese architectural aesthetics when done in wood, especially in their style of organized simplicity. The carved lines on the base marble in many of the sculptures also most likely aim to recreate Sugiyama’s own version of Japanese stone gardens, which besides being aesthetically representational in its revolving circular style, also reenforce similar ideas of meditation and stillness...


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...ill an essential part of staying alive. The theme is straight-forwardly portrayed by the contrast of processed house-like sculptures, though isolated, still represent influences by civilization, against the unprocessed marble that represent nature, devoid of any civilize touch.

The exhibition is filled with a sense of peace and stillness; a result of a clear combination of soft lighting that showers the whole room, a sense of vast space due to the minute size of the little sculptural houses, the sculptural relationships between the aesthetic of marbles and wood and religious references that provide us with mental calmness. With the absolute sense of peace intensely muting all other activities once inside the small gallery space, Sugiyama’s “Santuario” exhibition can be truly both a sanctuary and a very calming, yet thought-provoking experience on a hot summer day.

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