New York

Katsura Funakoshi, The Book of Azure (detail), 2017, painted camphorwood, marble, tin, stainless steel, glass, 71 7⁄8 × 18 3⁄4 × 15 3⁄4".

Katsura Funakoshi, The Book of Azure (detail), 2017, painted camphorwood, marble, tin, stainless steel, glass, 71 7⁄8 × 18 3⁄4 × 15 3⁄4".

Katsura Funakoshi

Van Doren Waxter

Sculptor Katsura Funakoshi’s exhibition at Van Doren Waxter, “A Tower in the Night Forest,” collected five humanoid forms fashioned from camphorwood, arranged like mannequins in a showroom. Each sculpture evinced an almost sentient presence that was just as much about absence. At approximately forty-two inches tall and mounted on pedestals that were roughly three feet high, these avatars were/are postlife, vaguely afterlife, and utterly deathless.

Somewhat resemblant of carved religious icons, they conjure the accidental melancholy of wooden millinery heads and seemingly wait for something to happen to them. This passivity is underscored by their partial nudity: The prominent breasts and buttocks of each are almost inconsequential until one sees how lovingly and precisely the erect nipples have been rendered. Imagine Daphne, after eluding Apollo’s unwanted affections by turning into a tree,

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