Japanese artist Yoshitoshi Kanemaki departs from the traditional norms of wood carving techniques to create contemporary sculptures with surreal motifs.
Chiseled from tree bark, many of Kanemaki’s larger-than-life-sized works defy ordinary anatomy and physical proportion, adding unnatural ‘glitches’ to the human body. The figures’ facial features and forms are manipulated beyond their normal boundaries, with 12-headed girls, wavy-shaped females, and 4-eyed faces deviating from traditional portraiture to dreamlike depictions.
The artist deftly hand-carves the standing and seated figures, chiseling away at their form before carefully painting them in a palette of animated colors. While the series of sculptures may seem to evoke a surreal sensibility, their substance lies in a poignant place for the artist.
“looking deep into the world in which we live, we realize that everyone holds hesitations or inconsistencies that they can never answer,’ ‘I think that such ‘ambivalent’ emotions can be embodied regardless of whether they are ‘surface’ or ‘deep’ layer by giving the effect of an irregular shape deviating from human figure. the sculpture series created with these feelings is the projection of my own emotions — it may be your figure.’
Thanks to the reference lines he draws on the log as it’s gradually whittled down by chisels and saws, we get to see how the strange girl depicted emerges from an otherwise formless mass of wood.
This bizarre sculpture isn’t even his strangest – all of Kanemaki’s pieces involve strangely twisted characters.