Isamu Wakabayashi

MOMAT- The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

Although it is true that the work of Isamu Wakabayashi is hermetic, there are means of access into the apparently closed world of his art. There is, for example, the palpable affection for his materials: he does not so much handle lead as caress (wrap, burnish, bend) it. There is also the peek-a-boo quality to many of the pieces that turns them into a sort of metaphysical amusement park. Fold, flap, wrap, and the viewer cranes, peers, crouches. Many of the pieces resemble boy’s model kits gone astray (or munitions factories gone awry).

Despite the work’s human scale, it possesses a monolithic presence in full command of its own impenetrable space. In the final analysis, it is baffling: one looks, walks, connects, and then loses it all in a delirium of exasperation, knowing that one will always only see, yet never really know. One wonders, for example, if there are 42 pieces, as listed in

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