The Japanese artist Yuko Hishiyama started her career as a theatre set designer, but for the last fourteen years has been making sculpture. After experimenting with various materials, she eventually created her own personal style using aluminum mesh “skin” on a wire matrix “skeleton.”

She grew up in Tokyo, where she obtained her first art degree. Later she continued her studies in the U.S., and has since held numerous exhibitions all over the world.

A week after arriving for a three-week stay in February of 2003, Hishiyama held a one-woman show, Smile, in the Dwek Gallery at the Konrad Adenhour Center of Mishkenot Sha'ananim.  Until the show, Hishiyama spent several days mending and fixing the delicate sculptures, some of which were the damaged after air travel. The Smile exhibition later traveled to the Wilfrid Israel Museum in Kibbutz HaZore'a, where it was received enthusiastically as well. Hishiyama was very happy to return to Israel and renew several contacts here, including those at the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art in Haifa, where her work was shown in the past. She particularly enjoyed her stay in Jerusalem, and expects to return regularly and maintain her widening ties in Israel.

The exhibition, Smile, a collection of enticing figures, can be thought of as a single production. Though made of wire mesh that could seem cold and industrial, Hishiyama's life-size people are expressively realistic. Their full-bodied three-dimensions are achieved through the seeming-simple folding of two-dimensional mesh. The bodies' volume, though it speaks of mass, is see-through; the inner construction offers itself to the viewer, and the result is a great sense of lightness and openness.  Her attention to detail and immaculate execution of the facial and other features of her sculptures are exceptional. The comic-like figures are inspired by the famous 18th century Manga caricatures of Katsushika Hokusai. In her exhibitions both whole figures and body parts are set loose and floating in the space, making it dynamic and active. These surprising sculptures are so full of vitality one feels as if one could virtually talk to them.
Viewers consistently identify with Hishiyama's sculptures, which are often only slightly smaller than human. This inconspicuous difference in scale invites the on-looker, and allows the strong and wide spectrum of reactions – from laughter and sadness, to aversion and empathy -- that the figures universally bring out.