Hashimoto Heihachi has here brought out the essence of the wood to express a unique spirituality. The well-considered organization of forms and masterful chisel technique that are characteristic of this artist has infused the sculpture with a brimming sense of presence.

Born in Ise, Hashimoto Heihachi was possessed of highly mystic, religious emotions and a poetic spirit. Within a brief period of only ten-odd years, he left the world a large number of wood carvings with a unique ambience, which reflect his self-awareness and worldview. The work shown here was exhibited at the 17th Inten exhibition. The girl, with knees slightly bent and head tilted, seems to be listening to some sound, and her skin has been covered entirely with carved line designs of flower petals and butterflies. At the same time, the names of thirteen gods of nature, including the god of trees and the god of wind, have been carved on the sides of the base she stands on. As a result, the artist’s unique formal sensibilities are ideological concepts have elevated this nude girl to a transcendental being, a celestial nymph, drawing the viewer into a world of elegant beauty. Placing great importance on the essence of the wood, Heihachi braved the possibility of cracking and purposely used the heart of the tree as the axis to create a sculptural form the accords with the cylindrical shape and mass innate to wood. His struggle with these spatial and structural constraints has generated in this statue a precarious stability and tension. Incidentally, a wood carving in the shape of an old tree was initially attached to the girl’s back as if clinging to her but is said to have been removed after the exhibition by the artist himself. (Writer : Rie Yokoyama Source : Selected Masterpieces from The University Art Museum, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music: Grand Opening Exhibition, The University Art Museum, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, 1999)


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