Yuichi Ikehata’s Powerful Sculptures of Physical Fragments

by Abby Lynn KlinkenbergPosted on

Japanese sculptor and photographer Yuichi Ikehata creates chilling scenes that bridge the gap between reality and fiction. In his surreal ongoing series “Fragment of Long Term Memory,” his intention is to comment on the fragmentary nature of memory and render it physical. “Many parts of our memories… are often forgotten, or difficult to recall. I retrieve those fragmented moments and reconstruct them as surreal images. I gather these misplaced memories from certain parts of our reality, and together they create a non-linear story, resonating with each other in my photographs,” he says.

Currently living and working in Chiba, Japan, Ikehata uses wire to provide the scaffolding for a human form (modeled after himself) before covering it with paper and clay in a fragmentary fashion. The effect is simultaneously destructive and exploratory. While these sculptures seem to decay, they also highlight the physical form. Ikehata aims to explore the blurred distinction between reality and fiction: “Reality is a key to access the unrealistic world, and unreality is also a key to access reality.” In the space between reality and unreality exists Ikehata’s sculptures—they are human, yet industrial; they are intimate, yet alienating.

There is a sense of desperation present in many of his sculptures; splayed fingers, contorted toes, a hostile grimace. In the most ambitious of his sculptures, the full-form of a human body, the figure seems almost to be blowing away, flesh falling away to reveal a mechanical under-structure. The ghostly white pallor and blank stares of these sculptural self-portraits suggest a certain morbidity. Despite, or perhaps because of, this darkness, a poetic sensibility runs throughout Ikehata’s series: “I collect the fragments,” he says. “Edit, arrange, and capture them.”

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