Hello,â€¨ â€¨ I thought that maybe some of you could be pleased to discover the work of contemporary artist and ceramist Yohei Nishimura, if you don't already know it. â€¨
Cooked at 1200 degrees, miraculously â€œfossilizedâ€ by the magic of the electric kiln acting like a time accelerator, Yohei Nishimuraâ€™s fired books are moving far beyond their fragile beauty. Whilst the link with the autodafÃ© appears obvious, what really takes places is a conservation or even a revelation, not a destruction. Admittedly the ink gradually disappears during the ten long hours of firing, but it is a work of collective memory to which the artist invites us with, as the starting point, the first page intact suspended above each work.
Founded in 1948 by Yagi Kazuo, the SÅdeisha movement contributed to the development of the ceramic-object concept (obuje-yaki) in opposition to utility pottery (yakimono). Through this ambiguous term, the avant-garde sought to break with sculpture in order to maintain this tension in the field of ceramic. But the irony is that it has thus contributed to the very western dichotomy between ceramic and art (modern, then contemporary). Whilst Yagi Kazuo launched the movement with his kokuto black ceramics fired at a low temperature, Ryoji Koie was even more radical, sometimes using industrial wood reduced into powder to mould his face, sometimes reducing the concept of ceramic to its simplest expression: â€œto burn thingsâ€, the literal translation of the word yakimono, going as far as simply making a mark with a cutting torch on the ground.
Very often categorised as a ceramist, Yohei Nishimura began by studying sculpture and this is undoubtedly a key element in his freedom. When he creates a kokuto piece in ceramic, in this particular case a recipient, it is an object in which to keep magazines that have been fired in the kiln. When he â€œburns thingsâ€, for instance books or fruit, it is to better conserve them. Transcending the constraints confronting the SÅdeisha members, his work often takes the form of an installation, sometimes involving very different materials and techniques, such as iron, wood, lead or everyday objects. For his most recent work, on a series of books to be thrown out, he has only kept the covers. Painted in a way that only leaves visible the red cross showing that they were intended for the bin, they are carefully framed and covered with a protective layer of beesâ€™ wax.
In the era of the cloud, ebooks and other digital tablets, this pioneer in specialised teaching for the visually impaired replaces substance and imagination with virtual and thus calls on our common, universal memory.
Copyright: the two last pictures come from his book edited by the Aichi Prefecture Museum.