New York

Katsuhisa Sakai

Ruth Siegel Gallery

The sculptures of Los Angeles-based artist Katsuhisa Sakai are made mostly of pieces of wood cut into a variety of geometric shapes and joined together almost like building blocks. These freestanding constructions have more than a touch of mystery about them. Sakai shows a true gift for imbuing abstract form with multiple layers of meaning, working within the challenging realm of what I wish to call the “articulate object.” He creates a dynamic synthesis from a number of ordinarily opposing tendencies. The individual compositions have eccentric appearances and strong personages. The rambling structure of Liquid Landscape #10, 1987, with its generous curves, defines an expansive space that unlocks a poetic statement on the relationship between architecture and nature. In Cubic Elevation #4, 1987, the upright and additive structure at first glance brings to mind a tower. This reading, however, quickly gives way to another with decidedly more animistic properties, as the notion of a tower becomes the idea of a totem. As the viewer circles the sculpture, the tensile properties of the skeletal structure become more apparent. Anima Animus, 1987, with its gestural bearing and almost dancelike twists comes across as a thoroughly organic entity with a life force of its own. The painted red and white sections add to the rhythmical composition of the sculpture, which is built on the diagonal, with repetitive and alternating passages of solids and voids. The title refers to the work of Carl Jung and also carries strong totemistic suggestions.

Sakai’s ability to meld the purist impulses of Constructivism and Minimalism with the symbolic biases of Surrealism are best realized in Octagonal Ascent, 1989. Here, the juxtaposition of curved and straight edges, flat and conic shapes, and the contrast of color and texture underscore the breadth of Sakai’s vision. He creates a world of fantasy out of a simple tablelike base, laying bare the tools of his trade in a feat of imaginative wonder.

Ronny Cohen