For a new exhibition at the Kawasaki City Museum earlier this year, artist and sculptor Takahiro Iwasaki decided to use his signature style – cityscapes sculpted from mundane materials – to recreate old industrial Kawasaki. But in order to make his models accurate he needed drawings or photographs of the areas that once served as post-war Japan’s industrial engine. Faced with high fences and no trespassing signs, Iwasaki decide to take matters into his own hands. Or rather, Google’s hands. Going onto Google Earth, he sourced all the satellite images he needed to recreate old oil refineries, natural gas generators and gantry cranes.
Sesshu Paints a Mouse with His Tears
Using cloth fibers, human hair and dust Iwasaki assembled his cityscapes which, he admits, were inspired by Katsuhiro Otomo’s background imagery. But why does he insist on using limited resources? At an artist talk at the museum Iwasaki revealed that he was moved by a well-known story about Sesshu (1333 – 1573), a celebrated Japanese ink painter.
As legend goes, young Sesshu was studying to become a Zen monk. One day his master punishes him for ignoring his training and, instead, being preoccupied with painting. He ties Sesshu to a pillar but when he comes back to check on him he finds a large mouse at Sesshu’s feet. Afraid that Sesshu will be bitten, the priest runs over to shoo the mouse away. But when he arrives he’s astounded to find that it’s a unbelievably realistic painting drawn by Sesshu using his toe as brush and tears as paint. From that day on Sesshu is never discouraged to paint ever again.
UPDATE [06/17/2016] it was announced that Iwasaki was selected to represent Japan at the 2017 Venice Biennial. He will present a series of new works based on his “Out of Disorder” series.