• 
Toshikatsu Endo And The Holy Of Holies

    Date posted: April 19, 2012 Author: jolanta

    With his work, Japanese artist Toshikatsu Endo, addresses human existence. He wishes to return to a facet of contemporary life that seems to have disappeared.  His art is a device to go back to the essence of human existence. With materials, such as bones, wood, water and fire, his mostly circular sculptures have a primal quality to them. When standing in or in front of Endo’s work, we are confronted with ancient archetypal ideas.  I recently curated an exhibit for the Venice Biennale where he displayed an intensely moving work.

    Karlyn De Jongh: In the 2011 Venice Biennale exhibition Personal Structures, you exhibited a work entitled VOID. Many visitors were very impressed by this large burnt wooden object. What does this work mean for you?

    “ Because I look at contemporary art from a primordial viewpoint, I hold a considerably rich and effective critical perspective.”


    Toshikatsu Endo, Event for Fountain, 1991. Wood, tar, fire, 75x130cm.  Dimensions variable.  Courtesy of the artist.

     

    Toshikatsu Endo And The Holy Of Holies
    By Karlyn De Jongh

     

    With his work, Japanese artist Toshikatsu Endo, addresses human existence. He wishes to return to a facet of contemporary life that seems to have disappeared.  His art is a device to go back to the essence of human existence. With materials, such as bones, wood, water and fire, his mostly circular sculptures have a primal quality to them. When standing in or in front of Endo’s work, we are confronted with ancient archetypal ideas.  I recently curated an exhibit for the Venice Biennale where he displayed an intensely moving work.

    Karlyn De Jongh: In the 2011 Venice Biennale exhibition Personal Structures, you exhibited a work entitled VOID. Many visitors were very impressed by this large burnt wooden object. What does this work mean for you?

    Toshikatsu Endo: For me, the creation of a work is an act that connects the most important elements of human existence. In that way it is a dialog. I think that for those of us alive today—artists included—we are living in a parallel context to modernism. My work talks about materiality and ancient ideas from a modernist perspective.

    I have carefully avoided connecting the context of leading contemporary art with my own expressive tendencies. I try to look at the foundation of art from the point of the primitive or archaic, the place of mankind. This is because I feel that a large segment of contemporary art has the possibility of falling into an extremely peripheral situation, and much like mass media, it focuses on general aspects of mankind.

    Of course, even though I investigate the primitive life of mankind, it is impossible to experience it in reality and it remains in an imaginative range. Because I look at contemporary art from a primordial viewpoint, I hold a considerably rich and effective critical perspective.  In reality, the earth, air, sun, water, fire, man, woman, life, death, sex and so on are the pure essence of existence.  And I face them directly; head on from a creative standpoint. Because of that I have come to think of my sculpture as a device that gathers these essences.

    Toshikatsu Endo, VOID, 2010. Installation view at Palazzo Bembo, exhibition PERSONAL STRUCTURES, 54th Venice Biennale 2011. Wood, tar, iron, (fire), 380 x 380 x 220h cm. Photo Credit: Global Art Affairs Foundation. Courtesy of the artist.
    KDJ: Your work has an element of sacrifice. As you make your work, do you feel that this has anything to do with self-sacrifice or martyrdom as an artist? Can you describe how you feel about the act of making art?

    TE: Sacrifice is not a necessary condition for artistic expression. Rather, I would say that there is little art that contains an element of sacrifice. From the start though, I wanted this element of sacrifice, for my work to be a medium that reaches into the deepest parts of human existence. As a result, my work is an investigation of the nature of life, death and religion.  And I’ve ventured even deeper still into the basis of humanity: the matter of sacrifice.

    In our contemporary world, ritual and sacrifice have been lost. Therefore it is the only fitting subject, to live sacrifice day to day. It has great imaginative power and has influenced my work greatly.

    KDJ: Sacrifice can be thought of as hope for future prospects. What is it that you hope for?

    TE: Without exception, artwork has the capacity to transcend its phenomenal reality, approaching new dimensions. And thereby approach something holy. So for me, working in a sacrificial mode is an attempt to get at holiness.

    Comments are closed.