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b. 1947, Japan

Shigeo Toya Biography

Shigeo Toya is a Japanese artist known for using a chainsaw to create wooden sculptures with intricate designs or knotted forms which, when viewed together, often make up a forest.

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Early Life

Born in Nagano, Toya completed his studies at the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music in 1975. Though Toya came of age when the Mono-ha movement was in full swing, the artist told Sculpture Magazine in 2021 that he did not take part in it.

However, Toya was influenced by the key thinkers of Mono-ha—Jiro Takamatsu and Lee Ufan—in their critique of anthropocentrism, and sought to explore nature as both a provider of artistic material and human life.

Shigeo Toya Artworks

Many of Shigeo Toya's wooden sculptures resemble totemic forms, spherical rocks, primeval plants, and other organic species. Using a chainsaw, Toya carves uneven surfaces into the wood in a process that has been likened to excavation, finding shapes and terrains that are buried within the material.

Excavation

Toya has been inspired by ancient archeological sites, among them the Lascaux caves in France and the human remains of Pompeii, and in particular the effects of time on surfaces. Toya has adopted an excavation-like process, using the chainsaw to gouge or carve recesses into wood. In a series titled 'Twenty Eight Deaths', which Toya began producing in the 1980s, 28 pairs of wooden blocks are stacked back-to-back, with cave-like cavities created by chainsaw on one side and holes burnt into each block on the other.

Forest

In 1984, Toya began his enduring 'Forest', a series of wooden sculptures in which he carves rough, charred textures into tall lumber with a chainsaw. Presented in large numbers, the sculptures form a forest together—one that appears to be a single mass from a distance, but with spaces between each tree on the inside to imitate actual forests.

Minimal Baroque

In the 2000s, Toya combined the intricate ornamentation of European Baroque with his wooden sculptures to create 'Minimal Baroque'. A 'Minimal Baroque' work typically features a large slab of wood, onto whose surface the artist carves a complex web of curves and branches to evoke tree roots or fossils.

Body of the Gaze

Toya also explores the materiality of wood through free-standing sculptures and installations of several pieces. In his 2019 solo exhibition Body of the Gaze at ShugoArts in Tokyo, the artist presented works examining the ideas of mass, scatter, linkage, and accumulation. Body of the Gaze – Scatter (2019), for example, is an installation consisting of a cuboid with Toya's characteristic cave-like recesses, while bits of removed wood are scattered on the walls around it.

Body of the Gaze: from Scatter to Linkage, from Linkage to Accumulation, another solo exhibition at ShugoArts in 2022, continues Toya's interests. The exhibition includes a sculpture of linked wooden forms in Body of the Gaze–Linkage (2020) and pieces of rock-like wooden pieces accumulating on the floor in Body of the Gaze–Accumulation (2021).

Exhibitions

Shigeo Toya's work has been presented in both solo and group exhibitions across Japan and abroad.

Select solo exhibitions include Body of the Gaze: from Scatter to Linkage, from Linkage to Accumulation, ShugoArts, Tokyo (2022); Shigeo Toya Forest – Lake: Regeneration and Memory, Ichihara Lakeside Museum, Chiba (2021); Body of the Gaze, ShugoArts, Tokyo (2019); Shigeo Toya - Sculpture to Emerge, Musashino Art University Museum & Library, Tokyo (2017); Danso-Tai, Kenji Taki Gallery, Aichi (2016); Memories in the cave, Vangi Sculpture Garden Museum, Shizuoka (2011).

Select group exhibitions include Omni-Sculptures – The Scene of Emerging, Musashino Art University Museum, Tokyo (2021); THE POTENTIALITY OF DRAWING, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2020); Grand Reopening Exhibition: Aichi Art Chronicle 1919–2019, Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art (2019); Starting points: Japanese Art of the '80s, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa (2018); Producing / Discussing / Looking at / Hearing, Sculptures, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (2017).

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2022

Shigeo Toya Featured Artworks

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Body of the Gaze−Linkage by Shigeo Toya contemporary artwork sculpture
Shigeo Toya Body of the Gaze−Linkage, 2020 Wood, wood ash, acrylic
52 x 490 x 100 cm
ShugoArts Contact Gallery
Body of the Gaze−Accumulation by Shigeo Toya contemporary artwork sculpture
Shigeo Toya Body of the Gaze−Accumulation, 2021 Wood, wood ash, acrylic
142 x 171 x 201 cm
ShugoArts Contact Gallery
Body of the Gaze - Scatter by Shigeo Toya contemporary artwork mixed media
Shigeo Toya Body of the Gaze - Scatter, 2019 wood, wood ashes, acrylic
ShugoArts Contact Gallery
Relief 19-3 by Shigeo Toya contemporary artwork mixed media
Shigeo Toya Relief 19-3, 2019 wood, wood ashes, acrylic
44 x 37 x 11.5 cm
ShugoArts Contact Gallery
Relief 19-2 by Shigeo Toya contemporary artwork mixed media
Shigeo Toya Relief 19-2, 2019 wood, wood ashes, acrylic
29.5 x 29 x 9.5 cm
ShugoArts Contact Gallery
Body of the Gaze by Shigeo Toya contemporary artwork mixed media
Shigeo Toya Body of the Gaze, 2019 wood, wood ashes, acrylic
ShugoArts Contact Gallery
Into the Ground by Shigeo Toya contemporary artwork sculpture
Shigeo Toya Into the Ground, 2000–2019 Bronze, wood, wood ashes
101.5 x 37 x 37 cm
ShugoArts Contact Gallery
On the Ground by Shigeo Toya contemporary artwork sculpture
Shigeo Toya On the Ground, 2000–2019 Bronze, wood
100.5 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm
ShugoArts Contact Gallery

Shigeo Toya Recent Exhibitions

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Shigeo Toya Represented By

ShugoArts contemporary art gallery in Tokyo, Japan ShugoArts Tokyo

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Shigeo Toya In Video & Audio

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