Critics’ Picks

Kazuo Kadonaga, Wood No. 5-CI, 1984, cedar, 2 x 13 1/2 x 1 3/4'.

Kazuo Kadonaga, Wood No. 5-CI, 1984, cedar, 2 x 13 1/2 x 1 3/4'.

Los Angeles

Kazuo Kadonaga

720 N. Highland Ave
July 21–September 8, 2018

Nonaka-Hill’s second exhibition features work by the contemporary Japanese sculptor Kazuo Kadonaga. Born in 1946 to a family of foresters, Kadonaga chose to become an artist. This is not to say that he abandoned his family’s craft. Quite the opposite: Cedar trees are central to Kadonaga’s artistic practice, which focuses on the elemental properties of wood, bamboo, paper, and glass.

Kadonaga first gained recognition for his cedar sculptures, produced in the 1970s and early 1980s, which are displayed throughout the gallery. Wood No. 5-CI, 1984, is a sliced log constituted by approximately eight hundred paper-thin sheets of veneer, which Kadonaga has glued into place. Along with composite washi (traditional Japanese paper) pieces such as Paper 1-BF, 1983, these works might sooner be called re-constitutions that meditate, layer by layer, on their accumulated forms.

A procession of Kadonaga’s recent glass works leads to the back of the space, where a small monitor documents the creation of an older series. Glass glows red-hot in a furnace until it liquefies and is poured to create bulbous teardrop shapes. The resulting forms index not only process but also time: They are made over the course of two days and can take more than three months to cool.

More sculptures inhabit the corners of the office space. Glass No. 4 Hs, 2004, stands next to the flat files, while small washi stacks and a cedar block sit adjacent to a desk. It becomes apparent in these back rooms that the gallery’s transparency goes hand in hand with Kadonaga’s. Through their proximity to the pieces, founders Rodney and Taka Nonaka-Hill demonstrate their intention to share work that is treasured in Japan but little-known to Angelenos. Kadonaga is well on his way.