This series of natural sculptures by Japanese artist Nagato Iwasaki is both unnerving and stunning in equal measures. The faceless giants have the physical appearance of being ‘human’, but with the twists and turns of muscle and organ portrayed externally through warped wood.
Silently still in their poses, as though mid-walk, the figures evoke feelings of the ‘Unheimliche’ – strangely familiar, but altogether steeped in mystery – perhaps not something to encounter in the woods after dark.
Iwasaki explains: “I made several works of the human body from wood before my current Torso works. For these pieces, I processed the wood itself and used fastening tools like bolts and nails. My studio is located in a town on the southern tip of Yamanashi prefecture, but it’s only about 30 minutes from Suruga Bay by car in the direction of Shizuoka. If you head over that way after a typhoon, there is always a lot of drift wood that has been washed up on the beach.
“When I first started gathering up this drift wood that had been washed up there from all over the world, I was making works like bicycles, desks, and chairs. But, since I had a background in creating sculptures of the human form, I eventually started putting together these pieces of drift wood to create human forms.
“The Torso pieces I create use absolutely no glue or other adhesives. Instead of iron nails I use wooden stakes, so these pieces don’t use any materials other than wood in their creation. I also don’t bend, shave, or otherwise process the wood in any way. Every piece is built to stand on its own without support.
“Each piece of drift wood I use seems to have been destined for use as some part of the human form, as each individual piece comes together to fill the parts of the body naturally. My job is to simply connect those parts together. Much like our own bodies will all one day rot away and return to the earth, so too will my pieces likely suffer a similar fate. Wood has that sort of ‘organic’ appeal to it, and I believe that is why I was drawn to the concept of using drift wood to begin with.”
Alongside these fascinating sculptures, Iwasaki is also an accomplished painter, illustrator and digital artist. His work has been exhibited since the 1980s, and has received several awards. To check out more of the Torso works, visit nagato-iwasaki.com. We’re big fans.
All images courtesy of Nagato Iwasaki
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Author: Laura Collinson
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