“Brown Sculptures”

幽体離脱 Astral Projection 2012 wood, oil stain, acrylic, hammer h.25.0 × w.12.5 × d.40.0 cm ©︎Keisuke Yamamoto

» Introduction:
Keisuke Yamamoto focused on wood sculpture in the sculpture department at the university, and has worked both in sculpture and painting since graduating. His early work includes sculptural works that used common objects such as a low dining table as a material of “wood”, and a series of wood sculpture “TSUCHINABURI Factory Product” that used matchsticks, also a common object. And beside these sculptural works, there have been paintings, which have developed under the mutual influence.

Vivid colors and forms found in Yamamoto’s paintings that were referred by Midori Matsui as uniting “decorative design and symbolic association by combining geometrical patterns with plant images” (Midori Matsui, “Winter Garden: The Exploration of the Micropop Imagination in Contemporary Japanese Art” Bijutsu Shuppan-Sha Co.,Ltd, p.78) have been liberated from the rules of using wood that is found in daily life. They seem to develop more intimate relation with his wood sculptures that were increasingly growing both in size and scale.
The extremely large sculptures around 2007, which have overwhelming presence like a forest itself, or “vague figures with the characteristics of plants, animals and minerals” (Ibid., p. 22), represent a decisive change in Yamamoto’s practice. On this, Yasuyuki Nakai has also remarked that “Yamamoto’s horizontal thinking nullified the barriers between the absolute territories of painting and sculpture, enabling him to create sculptures with multiple vantage paints which at first have the appearance of kitsch” (Yasuyuki Nakai, “Prior to Fortunate Encounter with the Artistic World of Keisuke Yamamoto”, Keisuke Yamamoto, Tomio Koyama Gallery, p.5)
In “Crossing”, a solo exhibition held at Tomio Koyama Gallery Kyoto in 2012, Yamamoto presented only paintings, where his vital energies and rhythm of sculpture seemed to play out.

» Concept:
In contrast to his solo exhibition in 2009, this exhibition will feature about 15 small sculptures. Yamamoto said he was forced to reconsider his own sense of values and work after economical recession and the earthquake. He has explored different approach than the large-scale sculptures that “resembled swelled fantasy like a large cotton candy”, and created “a series of sculptures made of tools and objects used by someone (or himself)”. In “Astral Projection”, and a hammer is rising from another hammer, and an eye that seems to embrace a soul is carved. With only the oil stain applied, the works seem to leave the function while keeping the forms, and regain the strength and beauty of texture of material.
These works remind us of his earlier works, yet the titles, which are given to individual work instead of “untitled” or the series names, suggest new directions.
On the exhibition Yamamoto describes:

“’Brown Sculptures’ are literally brown-colored sculptures, and imply stained, dull and dismal sculptures. I decided to use a term “sculpture” as I have become more conscious about it as relationship between the object and the world, as well as the act of sculpturing. As a result, vivid colors disappear, and stained, dull and dismal works have emerged. I am not sure if it’s my taste, or the Japanese climate, but for me in choosing wood as material, brown is inherently very appealing. I want to start new development by exploring the reality of the world and myself and engaging with worn-out, small existence in my work.”

Artist Profile

Keisuke Yamamoto

Keisuke Yamamoto was born in 1979 in Tokyo. After graduating from the department of Sculpture of Tokyo Zokei University in 2001 he stayed at the university as a research student until 2003. In 2018 he graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts’ Graduate School of Fine Arts, majoring in sculpture. He currently lives and works in Kanagawa. This show at Tomio Koyama Gallery is his sixth solo exhibition, and his major group exhibitions include “VOCA 2008” (2008, The Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo), “Winter Garden: The Exploration of the Micropop Imagination in Contemporary Japanese Art” (2009, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, traveled to several international museums), “Twist and Shout: Contemporary Art from Japan” (2009, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre), and “Nostalgia and Fantasy: Imagination and Its Origins in Contemporary Art” (2014, National Museum of Art, Osaka). His work is collected by the National Museum of Art, Osaka and international private collections.