This exhibition marks the first time a large solo show devoted to the work of Sumikawa Kiichi (b. 1931), one of Japan’s preeminent postwar abstract sculptors, will be held at a public museum in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Made up of approximately 100 works and documents, including some of the artist’s latest efforts, the exhibition serves as a career-spanning retrospective of Sumikawa’s over 60-year practice.
Enrolling in Tokyo University of the Arts with the aim of becoming a sculptor, Sumikawa thoroughly absorbed the foundations of figurative expression, with a special emphasis on clay sculpture. After completing a major in sculpture, Sumikawa began teaching at the school while producing a host of his own sculptural works. While displaying profound insight into natural materials such as wood and stone, Sumikawa developed “Yielding Forms,” a series of abstract sculptures that resonated deeply with characteristically Japanese forms of beauty. This theme, which Sumikawa continues to pursue, has become his lifework.
At the same time, Sumikawa has energetically devoted himself to works designed for public spaces. As design director of projects such as the Kazenotou (Tower of Wind, located on Kawasaki, an artificial island in the middle of the Tokyo Bay Expressway), and TOKYO SKYTREE®, he has also received acclaim for a wide range of large urban structures. In Yokohama, Sumikawa has also overseen outdoor sculptures and numerous public art works. In 2013, he received the Yokohama Culture Award. Sumikawa has made cultural contributions to the city, his hometown in Shimane Prefecture, and a host of other places throughout Japan.
This exhibition will serve as the definitive introduction to Sumikawa’s career, which started with figurative sculptures, gradually shifted to cutting-edge abstract sculptures, and eventually expanded to include massive outdoor sculptures and collaborations with architects and others.