Sculptures by Yoji Toyota
1986 Graduated from the Sculpture Department at the University of Tokyo Zokei
1987 Opened a studio in Machida, Tokyo
2000 Moved to his studio in Minamiboso, Chiba
Since 1986 Group exhibitions
Since 1996 Solo exhibitions 2-3 times a year in Tokyo. Yoji Toyota has exhibited in galleries in New York and the Louvre in Paris, which enabled him to emerge into the New York and European scenes.
A visit to the workshop
We met Yoji Toyota in a gallery in Tokyo, attracted by the lightness of his silver metal works.
One spring day, we visited the sculptor’s workshop in his residence, in the fresh temperatures of the mountains in the small town of Minamiboso. The area is part of the Chiba region, a few hours from the capital.
We discovered a variety of amazing objects–wooden sculptures, massive aerial pieces of pure aluminum–scattered around the garden and the house, between sections of wood and metal scraps. The workshop could well be the Yoji Toyota Museum, where we can distinguish the various phases of his work, each very different from the last, but all organic, and all using raw natural materials.
Organic shapes inspired by Japanese Nature
Yoji Toyota expresses his existential relationship with Japanese nature, an indispensable source of inspiration for the sculptor, as still on the path of evolution.
His wooden creations are generated by the image of the retaining walls of the mountain slopes, which mark the landscape of the Japanese countryside. The black lines carved into those sculptures led the author to express them in solid forms, with aluminum.
Sculptor of the air
To create aerial platforms in aluminum, Yoji Toyota gradually strikes aluminum or copper rods for hours, using a hammer that he customized to fit his hand by rounding the edge and planing the handle.
The soft and flexible nature of the metal allows the creator to patiently control the direction of the curves. He then heats certain parts with a gas burner to seal their joints and uses a polisher to form patterns on the surfaces. However, the high thermal conductivity of the aluminum softens large parts swaths even though the sculptor only works on small areas. After resolving this challenge, the artist hits the piece again and again, to stabilize the new object.
Arranged in another position, looked at from another angle, or on the wall, the same sculpture provides multiple uses and viewpoints. The slight curves that defy gravity express fullness and emptiness, the visible and the invisible. call to mind Chinese rock gardens decorating, which express the complementary forces, specific to the Asian philosophies.
An aesthetic of the invisible
Yoji Toyota reveals to us that his aluminum sculptures come from the memory of his youth, marked by the strong feeling of the atmosphere in his hometown of Toyama.
The artist tells us that he felt enveloped and absorbed by the air clouds. Yoji felt he was supported by invisible particles and that this physical world, including his body, permanently existed in time and space, while his conscience and the ones of other beings moved freely, depending on the change of the density of the material (i.e. the physical world).
“I want to express the extreme of immeasurable truth in the time, distance and matter.”
To do so, Yoji Toyota captures the image of his body through dancing forms of aluminum; transforming them each time he hits them. The sculptor masters the material to describe a perception beyond the visible, a fleeting sensation of consciousness, like a Zen monk in search of an individual consciousness merging with a whole, in a changing reality.
The artist says his works are not more extraordinary than traditional and classical Japanese sculptures. However, proud to be a sculptor, he thinks he has the duty to familiarize the public with the spirit of the sculptors of the past through his creations.