Maybe the name of Yoshitoshi Kanemaki doesn’t ring a bell but he’s one of the most important Japanese artists of the moment. Kanemaki carves life-size sculptures mainly from camphor wood.
This type of wood is very hard-wearing and comes from the camphor tree, an evergreen which grows to 98 feet in height and has a light, vertically fissured bark. This tree is native to China, Japan and Taiwan. It is distinguished by its pungent smell, its reddish brown streaks and its irregular grain and is traditionally used to make coffers for clothes, chests, closets and coffins.
Kanemaki, however, uses it to make surrealist human figures. These figures always seem to walk a fine line between sanity and madness.
A fundamental theme of his work is death, but death seem from an orientalist prism: accepting death as part of life, full of rarities and imperfections, just like the wood from which he carves.
The work process of each of the pieces is spectacular. Kanemaki shows us the origin of the piece, its process of creation and how the wood distorts to become something else. In this sense, he is a “very contemporary” artist and uses his social networks to narrate each creative process as if it were his own child.
Thanks to the reference lines he draws on the trunk, you can see a strange teenager, a naked youth or a woman with multiple faces, as he makes his way through the wood with saws and chisels in bas relief.
Kanemaki does not leave anyone indifferent. He will be exhibiting in the “Park Hotel” Tokyo Art Fair in February 2017. You can find out much more by clicking on this link.