“DIALOGUE” – TOKYO ARTIST HIDEHISA TACHIBANA & THE HUMAN CONDITION
Occasionally an artist comes along that possesses a rare ability to express the human condition in ways that speak to us universally. Drawing on memories, events and feelings from the past, the artist ties seemingly disparate elements together to offer a unified expression that tells us something more about who we are. Hidehisa Tachibana is just such an artist and his recent sculpture exhibition called “Dialogue” engages the viewer in an intimate personal conversation about the human condition.
In each of our lives events come to pass that indelibly mark us. Experiences can make us stronger or sometimes leave wounds that cannot heal, and yet we continue marching on. This seems to be the overarching theme in “Dialogue”. Sculptural figurines in whole and partial forms, from miniature to medium size make up the major content of the show. From a distance they appear alone in the world with facial expressions alternatively drawing in and repelling viewers emotionally. Throughout the process the sculptures create an emotional bond with the viewer. Complex layers of tone, color and texture seem to reveal more about the subject’s past as time passes by. Time passing by is a feeling one feels constantly here. The aura emitted by the figurines is remarkable for its subtlety and yet it feels familiar. The feeling builds as one circles the room and in the end it etches a lasting effect on the mind, a reminder of our shared condition.
THE MAKING OF A SCULPTOR
A man of slight build, quietly probing eyes and dynamic hands greets us at the door. In conversation the artist reveals a sharp intellect enriched through life experience, meticulous observations and all tempered by a sensitive, humble spirit. Born in Hiroshima in 1962 Hidehisa Tachibana is an artist who came to embrace the medium of sculpture somewhat by accident. He arrived in Tokyo via Hiroshima some years ago to begin formal studies in script writing at Tokyo’s top art university. Upon graduating with a degree in Fine Arts he was hired as a director of commercial projects for a media company. Asked to make drawings for film storyboards he found it a struggle to draw by hand. Instead he took to iIllustrating scenarios by creating clay models by hand. It simply came more naturally to him as a way to effectively communicate stories. Through chance he had discovered his unique talent and passion and eventually resigned from directing commercial projects to set about on a journey to define his art.
Today Tachibana creates his art in a tiny studio just south of Tokyo. It is his private chamber, disturbed only by the natural light that fills its space in differing gradations throughout the day. Here he is alone to explore ideas and shape memories from the past into messages for the future.
If one is looking for influences woven into his figurines there are fleeting elements of Moore, Modigliani and ancient Egyptian sculpture that occasionally flicker through. Whatever they are they are hidden in a definitive style that appears all at once new yet ancient. It would appear that Alberto Giacometti could be a spiritual mentor given Tachibana’s singular dedication to creating meticulous variations on human subjects – mainly women – and rendered in familiar forms. Tachibana clearly draws his figurines from real world examples which anchors each creation with an emotional edge.
If Hiroshima is no longer home to his physical being it can never too far from his soul. The childhood experiences that shaped his character now add subtle layers of complexity in his figurines. Family is also a recurring theme….
Tachibana’s recent show called “Dialogue” was held at Gallery Higashiaoyama in Tokyo just across the street from the Kengo Kuma designed Nezu Art Gallery. Sculpture exhibitions in the recent past have gravitated to the cavernous spaces of museums where each figure is carefully poised on a geometric pedestal and spaced generously from nearby works allowing each piece to be contemplated separately. It has the effect of making the sculptures alien to the environments in which they inhabit. Tachibana takes a different tact in this regard. He creates intimate environments that have the dual effect of extending the narrative of each figurine and encouraging the viewer to engage in a more personal introspection.
Upon entering the gallery ambient sound layers quietly set a contemplative mood, a cue to the viewer to move slowly, lingering as if strolling through an old growth forest. Although it is daytime when we arrive, the clever lighting enables the figurines to cast shadows, passing off a feeling of time passing by. Intrigue unfolds as anonymous objects strewn strategically throughout the room offer clues to the stories the standing figurines seem wanting to tell. Stamped packages, weathered by time, and clearly marked as mailed from overseas set-off memories – sometimes fond, other times not so. The mind is left feeling that questions remain unanswered. An antique shelf emptied by time, collects dust on a few remaining sketchbooks, 35mm film negatives and B4-sized paintings stacked in on the lower shelf. Opening the sketchbook transports the viewer to the genesis stages of the art on display. The first stages of creation illuminate – a virtual porthole opens into the artist’s mind.
In the process of stretching beyond a classical show of sculpture Tachibana has altered the very nature of the medium in which sculpture resides, morphing it into something more theatrical that extends and informs the senses in unique and meaningful ways. The following video was made by the artist during the gallery showing at Higashiaoyama in July 2015.
“Dialogue” Show at Gallery Higashiaoyama – Video courtesy of Hidehisa Tachibana © All Rights Reserved
Each aspect of the video from filming, sculptures and even animation was created by Hidehisa Tachibana. It is further evidence to his ability to extend a classical medium – here sculpture – beyond traditional barriers and yet maintain a tight narrative and meaningful story. “Dialogue” is an invitation to join the artist in a meaningful examination of the human condition. It feels like an open, honest dialogue that asks deep philosophical questions. Through a series of stories universal to the human condition a door is opened to contemplate the past and consider our future.
A curious aspect that makes an immediate impact on the mind of the viewer is the stages of decay of certain body parts. Oval heads sitting on long pedestals of necks portray Nefertiti-like poise. The body language projects a being full of purpose in stark contrast to the deterioration of the limbs. Somewhere in the past an experience has delivered blows to the body – perhaps even pain. Despite this the spirit remains strong, even brave as the figure stares with nobility, respect, intelligence and confidence.
Solitary and complex figurines conveying simultaneously strength and weakness. Standing in front, then circling – the viewer wants to see the whole story and yet never will. It is part of the intrigue at work in the figurines. No matter how much you try to understand them, what experiences brought them to this point can only be contemplated which is what the process achieves. It causes the view to become introspective which elevates our own sensitivities to our own stories. The intere
the reason we work is …… to give permanence to what passes away
SEEN FROM A DISTANCE
When asked why he likes small spaces Tachibana responded by saying that he had tried a larger gallery once but found the viewing distance to his sculptures to be too great. His preference to work on small to medium scale figures comes down to it fitting how he imagines the figures would be seen at a distance. This plays in his proximity to the figures as he composes them and to the viewer as they stand close to see the figures in a small gallery. Regardless, the detail in each figurine is considerable in both form and tones.
Within the “Dialogue” exhibition the figures share a resemblance to each other. The repeated imagery reinforces the point that we are very much alike in our shared experiences.
Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.ROBERT BRESSON
Hidehisa Tachibana’s creations include unglazed sculptures, sketches and woodcarving…..His works over the years reveal a singular focus on a small range of forms. This is an artist working within himself and never straying far from his beliefs. His singular focus reveals a spirit perhaps most akin to Robert Bresson who made just thirteen films in a highly focused career. A painter first, Robert Bresson lit up cinema with a spiritual style of filmmaking that culminated in a body of work unmatched in cinema history.Revealing a drive to create a body of work that explores the human condition guided by the honesty of his soul.
Gallery Higashiaoyama is located in Aoyama, Tokyo and features limited exhibitions of Tokyo artists as well as acting as an outpost for refined handmade Japanese crafts.
〒107-0062 東京都港区南青山6-1-6 パレス青山１階 TEL. 03-3400-5525
Hidehisa Tachibana: Born in Hiroshima in 1962.
“sayonara” GALLERY SAVOIR VIVRE TOKYO, JAPAN
“calling you” GALLERY SAVOIR VIVRE TOKYO, JAPAN
“saihate (the world’s end)” GALLERY SAVOIR VIVRE TOKYO, JAPAN
“kanashimi (sadness)” GALLERY SAVOIR VIVRE TOKYO, JAPAN
“still life” GALLERY HIGASHIAOYAMA TOKYO, JAPAN
“aioi” GALLERY ANCHORET HIROSHIMA, JAPAN
“tokyo” GALLERY SAVOIR VIVRE TOKYO, JAPAN
“endless summer” GALLERY HIGASHIAOYAMA TOKYO, JAPAN
“Franny”, GALLERY ANCHORET
“why I had closed my eyes” TAKA ISHII GALLERY KYOTO
“yesterday” GALLERY SAVOIR VIVRE TOKYO, JAPAN
hidehisa tachibana’s exhibition
June 25 – July 4, 2016