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The Human Element-The Sculpture of Yusuke Tsuchiya

 Bodies whose figures make it hard to tell whether they are male or female. An appearance excluding decorative 

design to the maximum possible extent, as if to escape from all symbolization. Eyes which it is hard to say are gazing far into the distance or close at hand, with an expression betraying no obvious emotion. 

 Often taking this sort of shape,the human figures created by Yusuke Tsuchiya (born in 1985) with terracotta 

exhibit little movement and seem not to have much to say.This however,does not mean that they naturally blend into the surrounding space ; indeed,they exude a quiet pressure.

 Ambiguous and, moreover, non-committal -- these are the kind of human figures Mr.Tsuchiya consciously 

makes. For example,a look at the drawing he did in preparation for production of the terracotta figures of the two people snuggled up together in "(no)where" clearly reveals that, originally the arms in the front of the piece were to be those of the figure in the rear. But viewing the finished terracotta sculpture from the sides and the rear, one cannot say for sure to which of the two the arms in front belong. In this way, Mr.Tsuchiya causes viewers who try to make some identification of the subjects reserve their judgment.

 We therefore cannot get the information needed to tell us whether the figures are male or female, how old they are, and what they are doing. About all we can say is that the figures are looking ahead ("lid"and"radicle"),

cuddling ("(no)where"), or spreading out a big cloth ("pupa"), for example. Through This approach, Mr.Tsuchiya apparently intends to free people from the narrative of some type that is called to mind by information inevitably carried by human depictions.

 Surveying Mr.Tsuchiya's works from the earliest to those of the present, one notices that former have a wider variety of colors, a larger colored surface area, and designs with ornamentation using materials other than  terracotta. Although the artist insist there has been no change in what he wants to present, his works show a  transition towards increasingly simple forms. As I see it, the process of this transition may be taken as evidence 

that he is veritably closing in on the human element.

 It is true, of course, that because they are made of terracotta, a type of ceramic, the size of the works is limited

by that of the kiln, and anything bigger must be fired in parts and then assembled. This naturally makes it difficult to coordinate the tones of the whole, and the number and surface area of colors tend to decrease as the size increases. But it is also true that color does not simply exist as such; it is endowed with meaning, and the resultant effect on Mr.Tsuchiya's works is therefore definitely not negative. Considering that he wants to leave perspectives on the works to the viewer, this approach is, on the contrary, presumably more congenial to his art.


 It might be added that where these human figures with little narrative and semantic content lead is, naturally, not confined to freedom of appreciation or interpretation.

 In other words, even if ambiguous and non-committal, what, at base, is it that nevertheless makes humans human?


 What Mr.Tsuchiya is seeking is nothing less than an answer to this question, by mean of sculpture.

Satoshi Koganezawa (Curator, Art Museum & Library Ota)

Translation: James Koetting












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