Shigeo TOYA
Recent Sculptures

The sculptures of Shigeo Toya appear ancient, almost fossilized. The ghostly ash wash he paints over the surface adds a final layer of antiquity. In the pleasantly dilapidated surrounds of an old rice storehouse in Saga, that is now the Rice Gallery, his works, three sculptures and a number of drawings are comfortably at home.

The 9-meter long sculpture 'Soueitai (double image) gracefully reclines in the middle of the large space. The large Roman arched windows of the Gallery allow light to spill across the form revealing the scarred eroded surface. Spreading from the central stem is coral like fans of wood. These shapes which appear to have grown have in fact been formed by the gnawing away of the huge log of wood with a chainsaw. No 'Friday the 13th type chainsaw frenzy was at work here. Rather a careful and delicate whittling away of the wood has revealed an intricate organic form.

Toya emerged with an important group of Japanese sculptors in the 1980s to international acclaim for their post Monoha sculpture. That is, they took the elemental materials, Zen-like aesthetic and primal forces such as fire, as used by the Monoha movement, but added artistic process. Carving, construction and coloring the work added an additional layer and reinserted the hand of the artist into the sculpture.

Two other recent sculptures, 'Wood and 'Kai Men Tai are also on display. 'Wood is part of a long ongoing series of Toyas works. They are all carved from large blocks of lumber and stand upright like a tree trunk. Grouped together they form a forest and conjure up images of primeval plants and trees.

A sense of time has long been a major theme in Toyas art. As early as 1979 he produced a work of scarred bricks titled Pompeii. Death and decay in a geologic sense are interconnected themes in his work. It is the processes of aging and its effects on surfaces that fascinate him. In Toyas hands the chainsaw becomes -- time, scarring the surface and eating away the decades.

The old rice storehouse is a centre for contemporary art not only housing the Rice Gallery, a joint venture by Gallery Koyanagi and Shugoarts, but also Tomio Koyama Gallery and Taro Nasu Gallery. The paint-peeling structure with its central courtyard, gracious roman archways and panoramic roof garden are a welcome experience in the general blandness of Tokyos city buildings.

Rice Gallery by G2 1-8-13-3F Saga, Koto-ku Tel: 03.5245.5522 11:00-19:00 closed Sun., Mon. & Hol.