Award-winning artist Yasuaki Onishi will unveil his acclaimed sculpture, Reverse of Volume, an exploration of negative space and reflection through mountainous visualization, at Mary Elizabeth Dee Shaw Gallery on Feb. 8.
The Japanese artist visited with Weber State University students and faculty on Jan. 29. The visit consisted of a Q&A session, followed by a behind-the-scenes tour of his sculpture and a brief demonstration of the crafting techniques he used to create the piece.
“We’re really excited to utilize the Shaw Gallery in a new and unique way to showcase an exhibition that’s physically like Reverse of Volume,” Director of the Shaw Gallery Lydia Gravis said. “It’s unlike anything we’ve ever shown here.”
Onishi has worked on Reverse of Volume for three weeks, using simple materials: cardboard boxes, plastic sheeting and black hot glue.
By guiding the glue gun crisscross on wires, he allows the glue to drip onto the plastic sheeting, creating part of the work’s foundation.
Onishi believes in “testing the invisibility,” a technique he uses during his molding process to create something out of nothing.
“I’m very interested in emptiness, and I want people to think about it in imaginative ways when they see it,” Onishi said.
The emptiness Onishi describes is for people to understand that materialistic things shouldn’t matter. He wants people, especially young artists, to focus on what’s in front of them, even if it’s invisible.
Onishi said visitors who view Reverse of Volume for the first time will see mountains, although he encourages viewers to “see through its transparent wall” and base their experience off their own creativities.
After studying sculpture in Japan and receiving his Master of Arts degree at Kyoto City University of Arts in 2004, Onishi worked as a high school art teacher. During his time as a teacher, he competed in art competitions on the side until he gained enough recognition to pursue his passion projects full-time.
Onishi has showcased his art around the world, collaborating with notable organizations and retailers, such as the Rice University Art Gallery and Mercedes Benz.
Some of Onishi’s other works include “Audi R8 Heartbeat” and “Vertical Emptiness FP,” both constructed with the same molding processes he used to create Reverse of Volume and “Edges,” one of his more recent pieces.
“This isn’t your traditional art exhibition,” Weber State student Erick Mathews said. “It’s great to have an artist here who doesn’t have their art piece on the wall.”
During the behind-the-scenes tour of Onishi’s exhibition, he explained that a lot of planning is made in advance before beginning his work.
To fully carry out his piece of art, Onishi needed specific sizes of boxes. The ceiling, wall lights and room itself have to be set at certain temperatures, and the wires he drills in the walls to suspend the piece are evenly spaced apart from each other.
Onishi said he doesn’t base his work on particular importance but rather enjoys the process of creating something people can admire.
“I don’t think so much about basing my work off of Japanese culture as I am just creating my work,” Onishi said.
Weber State student Bronson West found Onishi’s work to be an inspiration for his own.
“The art piece is intriguing to me because I’m interested in creating sculptures myself, how he balances the negative space into what it is,” West said.
Onishi’s advises young artists to not think about the cost but to create freely and enjoy the process of creating something they’re passionate about.
An artist lecture will be held on Feb. 8, in room 120 at the Kimball Visual Arts Center on campus at 6 p.m. followed by the opening reception between 7 and 8 p.m.
Reverse of Volume will be displayed at Shaw Gallery from Feb. 8 through April 6.