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Kan Yasuda: Between Mind and Matter

by Fred Licht

Ishinki/Shape of Mind, 2005. Cast marble, 145 x 320 x 220 cm.
Work as installed in Assisi, Italy.

Just as a great singer can use his voice at full volume or at the most disembodied of pianissimi, so Kan Yasuda can convey the full range of sculptural emotions as convincingly by the exploitation of powerfully expansive sculptural mass as by tender, almost imperceptible formal modulations. He is as persuasive at full volume as when he whispers.

Shosei/Gentle Infinite Space, 2000. Marble, 23 x 31 x 9 cm.
Photo: Taku Yasuda.

In the welcoming peace of the Villa La Versiliana gardens in Pietrasanta, Yasuda’s expressive range could be fully experienced in tranquility. Yet I will always treasure the breathtaking effect his sculptures had during an exhibition in Milan. A large number of his monumental works were installed at key points along the full length of the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, one of the busiest, noisiest thoroughfares in the city. Effortlessly and without superficial dramatics, each work had an authoritative presence that dominated Milan’s urban turmoil from the Duomo to San Babila. The sculptures participated in the vivacious scene yet rose serenely above the noise and the confusion of the crowd. They were equally available to those who wished to contemplate them in the kind of meditative isolation so movingly described in Leopardi’s best poems. They fully complied with Baudelaire’s demand that art belong to its time and place since their expressive form was clearly related to the last years of the 20th century. Yet at the same time, as you stepped closer, each sculpture spoke to you and you alone with a tranquil intimacy that made you forget the here and the now.

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