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Shigeo Toya

Thomas Solomon Art Advisory | Bethlehem Baptist Church

With their chain-sawed, charred surfaces and serial arrangements in blocklike masses, Shigeo Toya’s wood sculptures suggest a Japanese variation on Western Minimalism; it is as if works by Carl Andre and Donald Judd were suddenly imbued with a Zen-like “primal spirit.” However, instead of constructing sculpture from the inside out, so that material mass and volume are emptied out in favor of a skeletal space-as-mass, Toya’s guiding paradigm is archaeological. He excavates from the outside in, interpenetrating the material so that, by analogy, he inserts himself into its center. Toya himself describes this process as an attempt to “become the forest,” to create a “forest body.”

Toya’s chief inspiration for this strategy is the excavation of Pompeii, specifically the discovery of the human body overwhelmed by lava and ash, then dissipated from within to leave a fossilized shell. He explores

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