Articles

Satoru Eguchi: Drawing a Home

For Making a Home Satoru Eguchi has chosen a most appropriate subject. His contribution is a room-sized installation in which he re-creates his “home” space as an artist: his studio. STUDIO invites viewers to enter and encounter a variety of objects that surround the artist in his everyday environment—a work desk, a plant, bottles of paint, and stationery. Using common materials such as
Satoru Eguchi, Model for STUDIO
Satoru Eguchi, Model for STUDIO, 2007
cardboard and wood, Eguchi re-creates these items casually but painstakingly, in a way reminiscent of an artist drawing a landscape to grasp its fleeting impression. In other words, STUDIO is a three-dimensional, tactile drawing that captures traces of the artist’s transient, yet successive, perceptions.
 
Although Eguchi’s career as an artist is relatively short—he arrived in New York in 1998 to enroll in the BFA program of the School of Visual Arts, where he completed his MFA degree in 2004—he has already been lauded for his photo-collages. One such work, among the earliest Eguchi exhibited, is Untitled (2003), an ethereal construction made of a piece of paper and a snapshot, in which he creates a kind of imaginary landscape by combining negative and positive forms of cutout materials.
 
Like his materials, Eguchi’s cutout technique may seem rather basic and unpretentious; but with this method he produces works of striking beauty and delicacy. In Swimming Pool (2005), he removed numerous leaf-shaped forms from a snapshot, which he pinned down to a support as if the
Satoru Eguchi, Untitled
Satoru Eguchi, Untitled, 2003
piece were a specimen of a rare insect. As the picture casts an intricate shadow on the support, the work assumes a sculptural quality as well as displaying a complex interplay between the figure (a snapshot, whose original image has become barely identifiable) and the ground (the support, which now holds the abstract pattern of the shadow).
 
Eguchi has also produced sculptures by reversing this process. For instance, he used torn-off pieces of his own old clothes to create Shoebox (2004). In a reverse of the way in which he reduced an existent, yet anonymous, landscape to abstraction in cutout snapshots, he created a recognizable object from personal fragments of his own life. A pair of shoes eight feet in length, housed in a huge box made of cardboard, Shoebox is not a traditional sculpture in that the piece is not about the mass or volume of a real pair of shoes. It is more about how Eguchi sees things as an artist in real life. He first observes an object of interest with his eyes, and then traces its visual impression with the materials of his choice. The process is essentially the same as that of drawing.
 
Satoru Eguchi, Swimming Pool
Satoru Eguchi, Swimming Pool, 2005 
Thus, Eguchi’s concept of drawing is a working principle that lies at the heart of his production, whether it results in the delicate beauty of altered pictures or in the nonchalant humor of collaged sculptures. In fact, his cutout technique should be seen as a way of drawing, as a method with which Eguchi transforms his perception into a visual form. As the most basic, daily practice for an artist, drawing is a way for him to confirm the ground on which he stands. By utilizing readymade, mundane materials, Eguchi tries to link his art-making process to other daily activities in his life. To put it differently, drawing is not only a way of visual thinking, but also a way of being for the artist.
 
In this sense, STUDIO occupies a special position among Eguchi’s output, since he re-creates the studio in his own living space. Through this piece, he contemplates what it means to create a work of art, and how it can be—or cannot be—differentiated from other everyday acts that he conducts in his apartment. This tactile drawing may well be the artist’s attempt to catch a transient moment of his life in New York. He knows that a “home” is perhaps only a temporary condition; as a matter of fact, his apartment building is currently for sale. STUDIO is therefore Eguchi’s selfreflective work about being an artist in New York, his tentative “home” at the moment. Whether or not he will find—or even create—another one in the future, this piece surely marks a turning point in his artistic career.
 
Satoru Eguchi, Shoebox
Satoru Eguchi, Shoebox, 2004
When and how did you first realize that you wanted to be an artist?
SE: When I was around 12 or 13, I spent all summer making a smallscale model of a Japanese castle with balsa wood. It was something that relates to my studio practice today. But I didn’t think about wanting to be an artist until I was around 20. I start to go to the library on Sundays to look up works by contemporary artists in monographs, copying different painting techniques.
 
Did you face many obstacles in establishing your career in New York?
SE: I feel that I am just working on it right now. Where I grew up, I don’t remember having choices. It is possible to have choice or to make choices in New York. Perhaps I cannot completely get used to that idea of having choices. I am talking about in general but also about my own work. I used to work at galleries installing exhibitions. It was an interesting experience to witness the working environment of the art world. I met some nice artist-friends there whom I still hang out with.
 
Has the experience of living in New York changed your style or process significantly?
SE: My work really begins after I moved to New York, perhaps even recently. Living in New York makes me look at each day differently. I feel everyday life is a part of the bigger process that goes beyond my existence. In my current project I am re-creating a working environment and the process of living, in the scale of my private space.
 
In this age of globalism, do you consider yourself to be a Japanese artist, an American artist, an international artist, or a hybrid of all three?
SE: New York is still my present, but tentative, “home.” For these reasons it doesn’t make sense to give myself a singular category. Having said that, I am a Japanese artist based in New York at this moment.
Topics:  Art

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