Exhibitions

“Introspection” Kouji Ohno

Shir Meller Yamagucci

 

Japanese sculptor Kouji Ohno’s work conveys the experience of an infinite space through the human body. A master of figurative sculpture, Ohno specialized in anatomy, but his interest in the body goes beyond the visible physical dimension, striving to eliminate the prevalent distinction between matter and spirit, consciousness and space.

The site-specific installation featured here carries the viewer into another dimension devoid of gravity. It is a boundless world in which interwoven figures float in space. The wood-carved male and female body sculptures hovering on either side of the hall turn out to be thin, hollow shells of wood emptied of their content. They are open at both ends as a vessel through which the energy of life may flow. Additional holes serve as a reminder of their ephemerality and of the fragile nature of existence.

The figures suspended overhead expand into the space, independent of a body and unbound by a differentiated identity. They are made of illuminated silk threads woven together to form a net, reminiscent of a neural web in the human brain in which dispatches and transmissions are concurrently transferred between the inner and outer worlds. The manner in which Ohno weaves his silk threads imitates the binary structure also used in artificial intelligence.

The key sculpture in the space was inspired by painted scrolls depicting Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk (470–543) who brought Chan (Zen) Buddhism to China. Deep in meditation, facing the wall, he arrived at an alert awareness, realizing that the individual self does not exist as a separate entity. Examination of the interrelations between consciousness and the world allowed the definite borders to dissolve.

Ohno’s work is also influenced by quantum physics, which perceives the universe as a continuous space of particles and fluctuations occurring simultaneously. The way in which we observe a given phenomenon likewise affects this movement, creating and outlining it. The figure of Bodhidharma, made of a web of interconnected silk threads, touches upon the essence of this insight and the meaning of the notion of Sunyata—emptiness or void—in Zen. It is sculpture which refers to human existence as a body of consciousness inseparable from its surroundings.

Kouji Ohno (b. 1971, Tokyo) studied art in Japan and holds an MA in sculpture. He lives and works in Amsterdam, and is now exhibiting in Israel for the first time.