Yasui Tomotaka is a promising young Japanese sculptor who lives and works in Tokyo. Like fellow artists of his generation, he, too, is responding to the dichotomy of charm and hostility felt in the big metropolis, and to the penetration of Western culture into daily life in Japan. However, unlike many of his peers, he has not adopted manga and anime as his sources of inspiration, and uses traditional, time-consuming lacquer process instead to create his unique naturalistic sculptures.
Yasui stayed at the JCVA during June of 2006. This is not his first visit to Israel. In his early childhood, the family lived in Tel Aviv for three years. His parents love Israel and were very happy that his first exhibition outside of Japan was held here. During his JCVA residency, Yasui held a very successful show titled Silence at the By Art Projects Gallery in Tel Aviv. The exhibition was well covered in the media, and included a well-attended gallery talk by Yasui and curator Nirith Nelson. Yasui has had fruitful and enriching encounters with both artists and other professionals in the Israeli art scene.

Contrast (two sisters)

Yasui's sculptures are often based on people, animals and objects from his immediate surroundings. The viewer is struck by the choice to present these sometimes intimate sculptures frozen and motionless, almost withdrawn, with silence as their central feature. Even the hands, which Yasui considers most expressive, are hidden in the extra-long sleeves. The figures are highly stylized, and made with notably simple lines.  On the one hand, the sculpture is presented as a single mass that has little involvement with space. On the other hand, the features and the technique of the demanding lacquer work exude finesse and grace.

Gazing at the sealed expressions characteristic of Yasui's figures, the spectator is pushed to speculate on the range of causes and feelings leading to such closure. As Susan Sontag has written, "Silence never ceases to imply its opposite and to demand on its presence." (Sontag, Susan, The Aesthetics of Silence.)


Yasui chose to espouse the traditional craft of lacquer, which has been carried on for millennia by Japanese masters, but is rarely seen in the context of contemporary art.  His naturalistic, lacquered figures exude a silence and serenity that offers a new attitude to our frenetic, urban present. This is no quick fix. Instead, Yasui chooses to indulge in a time-consuming, Sisyphean, traditional process. The lacquered work achieves an immaculate finish through the application of many coats, with long drying periods and arduous polishing between each layer.