Hayashi Takeshi: Haku-u (White Rain)
Impressive hand-carved sculpture
This article is from 2011.
Once upon a time, Japanese artist Hayashi Takeshi looked out over a paddy field in the rain, the texture of the water’s surface as each inverted wet plop rose and fell clearly ingraining itself on his memory. With the primary and titular work on display here (the other is ‘Rin-kan’, five gnarled columns of black granite which might echo a remembered walk in a forest) he’s not only tried to recreate what he remembers of that scene in tangible form, it’s as if he wishes to lend it a permanence that the natural state of water can never possess.
Using 32 roughly rectangular lumps of white marble, a few small enough to fit in a rucksack, most large enough to require two men to carry them, the associate professor at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music has hand-carved and polished their pieced-together surfaces into an undulating, mock-fluid landscape, the rainfall re-enacted as nipple-shaped bumps on each block. This seems to be a piece about the imperfection of memory, as even Hayashi’s supreme effort to remember and recreate brings only fragmentary results.
The discovery that the work was imported from Japan, however, adds another intriguing dimension: in a global era when the transmission of ideas has been exponentially speeded-up, Hayashi has cast the ultimate intangibility of a memory as so many time-bound pounds of air-freight. Whether that makes it any more ‘real’ or not is uncertain, but it certainly lends it monumental, almost archaeological, significance.
Corn Exchange Gallery, 553 5050, until 22 Sep (not Sun/Mon), free.