Portraits of Absence – Kei Sugiyama
August 26 to September 16, 2023
August 26, 2023
The artistic world of Kei Sugiyama is profoundly influenced by the history of Nara, Japan, where he was born and raised. Nara, one of the oldest cities in the world, held the center stage of Japan in the 8th century, housing numerous renowned temples and artworks. Among these treasures, the “Great Buddha of Nara,” standing at a height of 15 meters, symbolized Japan.
The central theme of this artwork is “Nirvana,” representing a deity’s attainment of enlightenment and departure from the earthly realm. Kei’s portrayal of empty chairs alludes to the compositions found in Buddhist paintings that depict a deity’s journey into nirvana. The central sofa symbolizes the deity’s seated presence, conjuring the image of grieving disciples mourning around.
The absence of figures encourages contemplation about the potential occupants of the space. This emptiness prompts reflection on the individuals who might have once filled that void.
Furthermore, this artwork acts as a starting point for referencing compositions from renowned art pieces that depict existing figures and then creating new works devoid of those figures.
Perhaps it is only in absence that a presence truly magnifies.