Japanese sculptor’s nature-inspired creation ‘gift to Myanmar’

Katsumi Mukai works on a teak tree to create a modern wood sculpture. Sculpture will be on display at No 48, 61/2-Mile, Pyay Road.
Katsumi Mukai works on a teak tree to create a modern wood sculpture. Sculpture will be on display at No 48, 61/2-Mile, Pyay Road.

“I am creating ‘Windy’ for Myanmar,” said Japanese sculptor Katsumi Mukai, sitting on a lawn alongside a group of local artists while taking a break from his work in Yangon.
“Windy” is Mr Mukai’s creation for an upcoming exhibition in Yangon. To make it, the 70-year-old has been using an electric chainsaw to remove parts of a teak tree 20 feet long and 5 feet in circumference.
He has hollowed out sections of the tree to create two channels twisting around it, depicting the movement of the wind.
He will finish the work, his first dedication to Myanmar, in three days, the sculptor said.
“My motive (to create Windy) is my love for nature, because nature is not only important for me, but also for Myanmar,” Mr Mukai said.
Hailing from Ooma town in Japan’s Aomori Prefecture, Mr Mukai creates sculptures from local hiba trees using a chainsaw and chisel. His creations are well-known beyond Japan, having been exhibited around the world. His works are largely inspired by nature, with themes including snow, earth, wind and sunshine.
Different countries have different kinds of winds, according to Mr Mukai.
“I got some ice balls when it was windy in summer in Germany,” he said. “But, wind in Asia is the same.
“We are Asian and I feel very relaxed visiting Asian countries.”Artist friends of Mr Mukai invited him to participate in the Myanmar-Thai and Artist Friends Art Exchange and Workshop, featuring work by more than 20 foreign artists, at the Yangon Gallery in the People’s Park.
The foreign artists, including 18 from Thailand, two from Japan and one from Malaysia, will create pieces during the workshop on 16 May and exhibit them at Yangon Gallery on 17 and 18 May.
Mr Mukai arrived earlier than other painters to create his wood sculpture. A number of Myanmar artists are working alongside him.
Watching Mr Mukai at work was Myanmar artist Mon Thet, who captured the sculptor’s movement on a canvas using a pastel.
“My workshop starts now,” Mon Thet said jokingly. “I will create a painting with some movements of Mr Mukai in the background and will paint one of his works in the middle of the canvas.”
Well-known Myanmar art master U Tin Win (Beikthano) worked alongside Mr Mukai in Krabi, Thailand, in early February at an international art workshop there.
“When Mr Mukai worked on a big tree in Krabi, the mayor of the city visited him as a great honour to him,” U Tin Win said.
Mr Mukai said he has a big dream for Myanmar, involving the creating of 100 large wooden sculptures for display in public spaces.
“A hundred pieces is a family, and we will sit under them and talk and discuss nature, earth, our Asia, and we can meditate under them with children,” he said.
The Japanese sculptor has invited other people to take part in chiselling “waves” inside the hollowed-out trees.
“I’m not an artist or sculptor, I am just a worker,” Mr Mukai said. “I love working together with other people, especially with children, because I want them to have good memories with me.”
The Myanmar-Thai and Artist Friends Art Exchange and Workshop 2015 will take place at the Yangon Gallery on the People’s Park from 16-18 May.—GNLM

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