Natural Sculptures to Soothe The Soul by Artist Mike Sasaki
This is the first article in my “Sweet Escape” epicuration series which features artwork that encourages our minds to wander despite our bodies being confined inside our homes.
In the past few weeks I’ve found myself primarily attracted to decor elements and artifacts displaying very round edges and simple, bold outlines. Is the current 80s interior design revival influencing my judgement? Or is the overall uncertainty of our current times pushing us to surround ourselves with reassuring shapes and serene curves to soothe our worries? It can be very calming and meditative to look and carefully study a piece that displays a form of movement despite being virtually still. In the midst of this realization, I found Mike Sasaki, a sculptor who specializes in the art of creating dynamic shapes and intriguing forms out of wood.
How does the artist come up with his beautifully polished abstract wood forms? The Vancouver-based sculptor names Japanese culture as a major inspiration. On top of attention to detail, the Japanese philosophy recognizes the multi-sensory properties of one object or material for its purpose. The artist explains “on a go board for example (a game similar to othello), the thick wood block used for the board is valued for its sound when the pieces are placed on it, elasticity (however slight) and its ability to stay flat.” Other inspirations behind the artist’s conceptual creations are philosophical topics such as the human experience and the study of one’s own mind.
Sasaki, whose name actually reads as “support support tree” in Japanese, says he became attached to working with wood early on as it is a relatively clean medium. The careful choice of the original wood block itself will determine the color and feel of the final product: Sasaki’s creations include a variety of woods from dark peruvian walnuts and vibrant Western Red Cedars to the notoriously pale Jelutong. The artist only uses a minimal amount of finishing on the wood, often just coating it with a thin layer of beeswax to emphasize its natural features.
Each of Sasaki’s pieces is an experience in itself .
At first glance, you’ll notice the general movement evoked by the outline of the form and the careful balancing of the shape on a few points of contact. As you approach the piece you can discern the nuances in the carving of each surface and start to see the wood grain in all of its beautiful continuity - the artist selects wood pieces from the same block to make one sculpture in order to match the grain perfectly. Finally, as you take the piece in your hand, you can feel the contrast between the concave and convex areas perfected by days of hand carving. Let your palm and fingers get familiar with it and absorb its peaceful energy. I don’t know for sure but my guess is all of us could use some of that right now.