THE ACT OF MAKING ART
THE ACT OF MAKING ART is like creating spirit, the essence of alcohol. To create a high-quality spirit is to get rid of impurities and to pursue the pure and finally, to reach nearly 90 percent purity. Similarly a work of art is a completed form which finally, in the end, represents the artist’s essence, after all that is superficial and surplus has been removed. The concept of complete, however, is an illusion, a misconception. Complete does not exist in art making. That is why artists become lifelong learners and continue working. Sculptors carve and polish stones, not to make beautiful stones, rather, the forms they make are the result of their search for the limits of their artistic capabilities.
When I traveled in Nepal about twenty-eight years ago, I met Sherpa tribe people, who lived in the highlands. Their lives were simple and beautiful. The simpler, the closer to the truth. The truth is no complicated, but very simple. Almost every one of my sculptures has roundness in it. Roundness is a basic form, and one of the most natural forms is a sphere. Although the Himalayan Range, when looked at from the Nepalese foothills, is a very steep mountain range, the basic ground still has roundness to it. The Himalayas stand as the spine of the great round earth.
Human beings grow older and lose the meekness of their childhood rapidly. When children go abroad, they learn new customs and languages quickly, and they adjust to the culture easily. It is a wonderful skill. We lose that ability when we grow up.
We need a great deal of concentration when we make art: perceiving the unnecessary and the necessary accurately, precisely, then leaving the necessary and removing the unnecessary. Sculpture is this continuous activity.
It was the noble class that supported art in medieval Europe. How many noble people are there in Japan today who support art? Every regional city in Japan is constructing monumental pieces representing instant culture. Art, one form of culture, cannot be rooted instantly. After all, it took a century for the Christian religion to permeate the country of Japan. It is necessary for artists in Japan today to consider what Japanese culture is going to do under the current circumstances. I would like to see young people establish a meeting point between Eastern and Western cultures.
Having visited Isamu Noguchi’s grave, I fulfilled one obligation. I felt that I finally had paid a visit to my father’s grave. I first met him in 1976. He gave me great courage to support myself as a young sculptor in Japan. Since then I have worked and lived as a sculptor, selflessly, as in a dream. I was introduced to Noguchi at Fukudaya Inn, where he often stayed. He was wearing a kimono and looked very mature. I drove him to the hospital, because he was ill. We walked next to each other, and he was shorter than I. Isamu Noguchi passed away in 1988. Now tens of his sculptures are located in New York and in Takamatsu. He spent his life searching for his identity, born between the East and the West. Therefore, it concerns me that his remaining sculpture in Takamatsu may be taken to New York someday.
Now, in our era, we should not just think about the East and the West, but we should also think about the whole earth and even the solar system surrounding the earth. The human body is composed of numerous cells. If each human being completes his or her life as fully as possible, as one single cell of the earth, then the earth as a whole will be rejuvenated. The rejuvenated earth will revitalize the solar system and the universe.
This is my message for the art of sculpture. Now I will get back and continue my art making.
The Universal Language of Kazutaka Uchida
It is rare to meet an artist whose work is, at once, profoundly rooted in his or her own culture, but can also resonate with absolute clarity to those of us living across the ocean in another. One senses this possibility in the art of Kazutaka Uchida. His chosen medium, the elemental shapes he forms, their scale, and their overall effect form a universal language with a particulary evocative Japanese accent.
There is a fundamental aesthetic to Uchida's work that finds resonance in his Japanese heritage -- clean lines, subtle beauty, harmonious relationship, bold transformations, and respect and patience for his chosen medium of stone. And what strength and permanence! Whether individual works of art or installations, Uchida's sculptures often stand like the Japanese archipelago itself. The titles of his works give evidence of this interest -- "The Ocean and the Sun" or "Roundness of the Horizon." Their spiritual and physical relationship to Zen monastic gardens is evident.
His sculptural forms also manifest something more than cultural respect and continuity. In Uchida's works there is another level of the microcosmic that predates humanity. Again, the titles he gives his sculptures suggest this possibility. Like a subscript, their names often end with the words, "-- the Fossil," giving them a prehistoric reference. His sculptures' polished forms frequently seem embedded in rough stone, having simply been released by Uchida, the geologist.
That Uchida studied sculpture in the same Italian marble quarries where Michelangelo selected his stone offers insight into thier shared attitude that the artist simply reveals that which is embedded in nature. Whereas Michelangelo found this truth by sculpting stone to reveal the human soul, Uchida, as a man of his own age, manifests the same belief through an expressive manipulation on stone to reveal a universal abstraction. In doing this, he has found a timeless language that enriches our view of the world and enlivens age-old cultural beliefs.
Dr. David Robertson- Associate Director of the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago
内田氏の基本的な美意識は作品に於ける日本文化に通じる、例えばきれいな線、静かな美しさ、作品刊の調和された相互関係、大胆な形態、そして彼の選んだ関素材に対する愛着と忍耐力の中に見ることができる。そしてそれはとても力強く普遍的なものだ！彼の作品は個々に見ても、複数のインスタレーションとして見ても時折日本の島々そのものの様に存在していることがある。これは“The Ocean and The Sun”、“Roundness of the horizon”等の作品タイトルからも感じられる。精神的かつ自然的な関わりを秘めている禅宗の庭園すら彼の作品中の日本的要素を証明している。