RÓT by FYLGDU MÉR

INTERVIEW

Beauty Opens a Gateway to the Flow of Life

An interview with Masaya Hashimoto

Mr. Masaya Hashimoto is attracting attention in recent years with his works which transfers the forms of common plants with elaborate detail using bones and antlers of Japanese deers as the material. Through the interview regarding the daffodil sculpture he creates every year, the connection between beauty and the life that lies behind it was revealed.

Sculpting With an Understanding of the Plant’s Natural Mechanism

When I work on a sculpture, I pick the plant and place it in front of me in a vase. Not only daffodils but every time. In the natural environment, the plant grows by receiving light from a certain direction, and it is essential to be aware of the direction of light the individual object grew in, and build up the work from there. This is because deer bones and antlers are hollow in the center, and the part that is dense enough for sculpting is less than one centimeter thick. Therefore, it cannot be sculpted in the exact shape of the object, but the shape must be sought from the material in stock. For daffodils, I must first take in the natural flow of the leaf or flower made by the direction of light it had been receiving. This process was stressful at first, but I have gradually come to understand that it is essential in understanding the motif. The process of building up the movement of the flowers and leaves of the daffodils from the direction of sunlight is to sculpt with an understanding of the environment it is living in.
I keep the daffodil even after I finish sculpting and the flower has withered since I need to observe things like the way it shrivels when it is eaten by an insect. By this, I am able to grasp the movement of the essence in the details that are not visible when it is alive, such as the striking shape of a leaf that is left after it loses its gentle curve. When sculpting, it is important to decide on the form in a way that does not deviate from the natural law without overthinking, so I try to look at the flower regularly by placing it in a prominent place.

Implicit Trust Towards the World of Plants

One day, I was sketching a daffodil thinking the leaves are beautiful. I had my eyes fixed on the daffodil, and suddenly, I realized that it was overwhelmingly perfect. Like the way it grows corresponding to the natural environment, or the flexibility that is just right for the leaf to come back up to where it stands when it is blown by the wind, or the direction of the stem to maintain its balance. It was the first time that I experienced that the world of plants is truly perfect, beyond reason. Before this, I didn’t notice the imperfections in the shapes of my own work, but after this experience, the thought that ” something is not right” began to grow. How can I create something with my own hands that stands on the same horizon as the world of plants? I am in the midst of repeating the process of trial-and-error.
The gateway of my experience was a daffodil, and through the daffodil, I had the sensation of connecting with the whole earth. I think that was a state where there was no difference in myself and the world I am seeing.
I am constantly questioning whether the viewer is able to grasp that all life on earth is connected, and feel a connection with that great flow through my work, whether my work can be a gateway to this experience, whether it can create a path to it.

The Richness of Feeling Connected to the Subject

I think that good things make us extremely aware of our own body, whether it is when we are appreciating an artwork, or truly enjoying the food that we are eating: like the time I saw Van Gogh’s painting from his final years a few years ago, and felt something inside my body well up, or when I went hunting for the first time and tasted the deer meat I was chewing, and felt a physical sensation at the same time. For me, the richness I feel when I am connected to the subject without the distinction of self and other is extremely important.
With the development of civilization, the connection with nature which humans were once unified with is becoming more distant and weak, almost disconnected. However, I have hope that beauty is playing the role of holding them together at a deep level. We may feel that something is beautiful because there is something resonating within us in the moment we acknowledge beauty. The feeling of something resonating inside myself is the reason I choose a flower that meets my gaze in the moment I pick a flower for sculpting. I think that this kind of joy that instantly wells up is something indispensable for humans.

A Close Relationship with Something We Cannot Overlook

Sometimes I wonder why creatures like human beings that harm the natural environment exist in a harmonious world where all species play a unique role. However, one of the potentials that human beings are born with is the ability to realize the beauty of life. Humans marvel at a rock that a deer may pass by without notice, or bring home a poisonous non-edible plant to share the beauty with someone at home. It is an extremely enigmatic behavior amongst living things, but lovable for some reason.
Small beauty at one’s feet are overlooked at times, but even a single personal experience of acknowledging something beautiful can change our behavior. I was a short-tempered boy in my childhood but gradually outgrew the roughness. The influence was my encounter with small creatures, and coming in contact with them created a feeling that ”I can’t leave them alone.” I view the act of finding beauty in something as being the same as cultivating a close relationship with the subject, a very little incident. But I feel that only the accumulation of those little incidents trigger change.
The task of an artist is to find hidden beauty, and elaborate and bring it out, but I want the trace that I worked on it to be erased. This is because I feel that my passion and understanding of nature is too shallow in contrast with the law of nature. My present intention is to sculpt along with the law of nature that creates a straight path between the work and the viewer.

Text: Aya Ogawa
Photography: Tadayuki Minamoto