Spontaneous Art of Kazuo Kadonaga
THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
BY BRANDON GRIGGS/ART REVIEW
Sunday,September 23, 2001
|Translucent green glass forms a beehive
shape in gGlass No 4 Mh
When Kadonaga began making art in earnest in 1971,
he was drawn to wood-not because he loved its feel but because his family
ran a lumber mill in northern Japan and wood was plentiful and cheap. In
subsequent years, he experimented with paper, silk and glass. With a simplicity
characteristic of his native country, Kadonaga tinkers with these raw materials
to see how they respond when physically altered or exposed to changes in
For example, one of the exhibit's pieces is a bark less cedar log about 15 feet long. Kadonaga used a table saw to slice the log length wise into hundreds of paper-thin sheets, then reassembled it. As the wood responds to changes in temperature and humidity, the paper-thin sheets buckle or curl - changing the logfs appearance. In this way, Kadonaga lets his materials dictate their ultimate shape. The end result is random, unpredictable and fluid. For one installation years ago. Kadonaga dried a number of cedar and bamboo pieces until they were on the verge of cracking, then placed them in a gallery. Visitors were asked to sit on a nearby chair; if they kept quiet they could hear the wood cracking, revealing the two materials' distinct aural as well as visual characteristics.
Equally fascinating are Kadonaga' s mounds of translucent green glass, each lit from above by a spotlight that makes them appear to glow from within. After years of experimentation, Kadonaga became intrigued with the viscous quality of molten glass. He developed a system to melt glass in a kiln at 2,600 degrees, then drip it continuously onto a cooling furnace below, creating layered, billowing shapes that take more than three months to harden.
|Handmade paper is layered gPaper No.1BF,h a 1983 work by Kazuo Kadonaga|
The results conjure images of space-alien larva or soft-serve ice cream.
They are a far cry from the sculpted glass of Dale Chihuly-whose colorful
creations will inhabit the gallery during the Olympics.
Speaking through an interpreter, Kadonaga says he enjoys the spontaneity of his work. He doesn't imagine ahead of time how his pieces will evolve, nor does have any expectations about how they win look when finished. He likes to keep his artistic process as simple as possible.
| ¡ At Salt Lake Art Center
"Kazuo Kadonaga: Wood Paper
Bamboo Glass" will be exhibited
through Nov. 25 at the Salt Lake
Art Center, 20 S. West Temple in
Salt lake City. The center is open
every day but Monday; admission,
as always, is free.
In a catalogue that accompanies the exhibition, critic
Josine lanco-Starrels calls Kadonaga 's works gsimple, stark and without
artifice, yet uncommonly impressive.h lanco-Starrels said she had never
before seen wood or glass "presented simply as the elements they were,
the heart of their matter. Prior to this, they had appeared as materials
acted on by the artist. Wood had always been roughly hewn, smoothly sanded,
skillfully carved. This was different. The longer I looked at the
elements before me, the clearer the artist's intent became; the essence
of the material superseded the makerfs will."
Whether or not you enjoy Kadonaga's art - and his deceptively simple works may leave some observers scratching their heads - you could visit every art gallery in Utah and not see anything like it. And that's a compliment.