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.Read More
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
In this exhibition, Body of the Gaze−Linkage, a 'mass' sculpture with linked wood, will be installed in the front room, and Body of the Gaze−Accumulation, another 'mass' sculpture with stacked wood, will be placed in the back room.View More Related Video & Audio Shigeo TOYA, Body of the Gaze Scatter, 2019, installation movie 20 April 2020, ShugoArts View More Related Video & Audio Shigeo TOYA Interview, 2016 17 April 2020, ShugoArts View More Related Video & Audio Shigeo TOYA Body of the Gaze 16 April 2020, ShugoArts View More