The popular Japanese sculptor Yoshimasa Tsuchiya works with wood to create life-sized majestic creatures of the imagination. After graduating from Tokyo’s University of the Arts with a major in woodcarving, he completed his doctorate in 2007. As one of his projects he decided to create life-sized sculptures of various mythical beings from Japanese folklore. Some of the creatures that he creates are also inspired by his own dreams. His sculptures are simple, yet exude a certain mystery. The series challenges viewers to examine their own private myths.
Tsuchiya’s sculptures are created through a rigorous process. The sculptor first makes a template which is fitted onto a block of wood. Using a saw he cuts away the excess to create the basic shape. Then the intricate process of carving and sculpting begins before the wood is sanded to smooth out the surface. Plaster and paint is then applied to finish the piece of art.
Explaining the key role mythology plays in his work, Tsuchiya points to its allegorical function around group origins and identity. ‘Regardless of historical facts, mythologies are passed down from generation to generation, enabling us to maintain our connections with one another,’ he says. ‘I believe that mythology even exists in our private relationships.’