Tomoaki Suzuki July 5th - September 15th 2018
Following on from the success of Chuck Close tapestries shown in St Cuthbert’s Chapel during summer 2017, we installed another contemporary art exhibition featuring figurative work – populating the spaces of Ushaw with adverse group of figures. In a modern twist on the tradition of Japanese woodcarving, Tomoaki Suzuki sculpts small wooden and bronze portraits of human subjects, each some 20 inches high or so, with a remarkable sense of psychological presence. A London resident, Suzuki finds subjects in his Hackney neighbourhood; he works with his models in front of him, sketching and photographing them in detail before embarking on the two-to-three-month process of carving, sculpting, and painting each figure in acrylics. The sculptures typically depict diverse urban youths in natural postures, their personal dress styles expressive of their identities.
There were eight wooden sculptures displayed in the William Allen Gallery, four relief portrait panels in the foyer area in front of the gallery and five bronze sculptures in the quadrangle. The separation of the figures and the sense of isolation between them was an essential element of the artist’s intentions and encouraged viewers to think about loneliness and solitude. “We are born alone. We die alone. So I install my sculptures as isolated individuals”.