Masaaki Sugita (JP)
The detailed and slightly absurd works by Masaaki Sugita’s are reminiscent of the works of Salvador Dali and Alice in Wonderland-esque fairy tales.In his prints, Sugita travels into a feverish yet beautiful dream landscape where the disturbed and the subconscious mingle to create a fascinating tale.Sugita uses one of the oldest technique of printmaking- copper engraving with burin, a historical factor that is evident in his terrific technique and defined expression.
Masaaki Sugita (JP)
The observer is lured in by the suspenseful, childlike creatures and their mysteriously fixed gaze that is repeated throughout his work. This bewildering invitation is furthermore enhanced by the structured symmetrical composition centered around the human-like subject. On one hand, the human presence is in visual contrast, clear disproportion and detached from its surrounding, while on the other hand it is in perfect harmony with is environment. The state of mind of the subject is clearly reflected by the surrounding elements, thus immersing us into a surreal symphony, an intricate, subtly provocative state where dreams, memories and desires meet our deeply rooted fears. All while maintaining the playful aspect of an innocent, childlike vision. The creatures, the inanimate objects, along with the distant landscape and architectural detail that often represents a key component of the piece, are able to convey the idea that appears to be stripped away from the subject’s face. In fact, the subject is deprived of any specific personal features, it can resemble and allude to any one of us. This is what gives the pieces somewhat of a universal appeal. In many cases the subjects recall age old stories and fables, with Alice in Wonderland being the first that comes to mind, all of which form part of our collective memory, giving the pieces an impetus towards our culture’s collective subconscious. The dynamic compositions unfold in front of the observer in form of a circus. Sugita’s fun, theatrical visions are loaded with curious, metaphorical components. Animals, statues and faces that appear out of walls only to get lost again as our eyes continue to explore the image. Humorous and haunting at the same time, each engraving is a fragment, a short story from a novel that can be endlessly recomposed and rewritten.
What stands out, even to an inexpert eye, is the admirable technical aspect of Sugita’s engravings. Precisely executed lines that rhythmically intertwine and wrap themselves around forms suggest the calculated, experienced approach and preparation that the given outcome requires. Whether the drawing depicts textured or smooth surfaces, movement or light, it is a result of masterful technique. Something clearly inherited from the centuries old history of the medium and its venerable tradition. The moment of translation from a gesture to a printed mark has its own hidden system in technical and even more so in phenomenological terms. It originates from a craftsmanship and carries the inherited nobility of the material, the metal plate in which consists the matrix. It is unquestionable that masters from the past such as Escher and Piranesi have influenced in Sugita’s visions. When the intricate language of engraving is acquired and directed towards a contemporary context and tendencies, the possibilities are endless. The machine and robotic-like elements combined with the fairy tale imagery create a universe where time and gravity do not exist. The inherited concept of solemnity related to art is put into play in a moment where nothing seems to be as serious as it was. The artist presents us with an enigmatic insight into his private fantasies.
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