As New York’s Eykyn Maclean gallery rarely holds selling exhibitions, preferring instead to highlight primarily historical work from museums and important private collections, it’s not surprising that a forthcoming show with work for sale by Japan’s foremost contemporary sculptor, Kan Yasuda – the first such event in the US – is causing a frisson of excitement among international collectors.
Working in marble or bronze, Yasuda is best known for his monumental sculptures and public commissions, such as those in Japan at Arte Piazza Bibai, a 17-acre sculpture park in Hokkaido, and Benesse Art Site, Naoshima; and in Italy at Trajan’s Market/Imperial Forum Museum in Rome, and the Boboli Gardens in Florence. However, the emotive sculptures on show at Eykyn Maclean ($18,000-$250,000 plus VAT) are on a much more intimate scale (such as Myomu, 2012, first picture; Shosei, 2013, second picture; Tenpi, 2013, third picture; and Tenpi, 2014, fourth picture), making them far more accessible for private collectors. Still, these small-scale pieces – including more than 20 new works – are, says Yasuda, “the most challenging to create, as they are attempting to condense the energy and presence of large works”.
Based in Japan and Italy, Yasuda choses marble from the Carrara quarries near his studio in Pietrasanta, Italy, and painstakingly hand-carves each tactile piece. The smooth surfaces and simple sensuality of his rounded forms create a quiet, contemplative presence that has been described as “minimalism meeting animism”. Indeed, the sculptures convey a tranquil, meditative quality that turns even a brief encounter into a moving sensory experience.
A solo retrospective at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 1994, a show at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge in 2012 and several exhibitions at Italy’s historic cultural sites have brought Yasuda’s work to the attention of European collectors – but not until now has a gallery hosted a show by this award-winning artist in the US. “Having followed Kan’s career in Europe and Japan, we are delighted to have the opportunity to introduce his work to an American audience,” says gallery partner Christopher Eykyn. “Working together with Kan, we have selected a group of works that best represent this important artist at the height of his career. I know Kan’s sculpture will resonate as powerfully here as it does in the rest of the world.”