Being a Drop; Being Water

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Nobuya Yamaguchi is a Japanese sculptor who lives in the Ein Hod artists village. Throughout his artistic path he has explored the transformation of metal through fire. Here, however, he uses it to create an image of water: he forges the metal and sets it in motion until it stretches and curves, giving form to that which is beyond form– to the intertwined cycles of life, a constant flow of water without which we cannot exist. The works displayed in this exhibition address the cyclical nature of life and the hidden processes of its evolution.

The new series Being Water closely observes us humans as being mostly water. It reveals the life that pulsates beneath the polished metal surface. Gleaming drops take on and divest shape through processes of flow and transformation. The droplets turn into organic, human-like bodies: a cell that splits into two and a fetus that seeks to be born. As in his previous works, here too Yamaguchi chooses to use the material as is just by forging it, without adding to it or reducing it, respecting its completeness.

In an earlier series the contrast between the burnt wood and the polished drop of water emerges strongly. These are charred branches that remained after the fire that raged in Ein Hod in 1998, like mute witnesses to the destructive power of fire. Yet in these sculptures fire becomes a creative power in Yamaguchi’s hands as he forges from the metal a droplet of water that shimmers with vitality. The stainless steel’s sheen stresses the preciousness of water, while its fullness seems to promise nature’s rejuvenation. 

Each drop is full of water and when it becomes a part of rain, of a puddle, or of a stream, it loses its independent existence, frees itself of its shape, and merges with other drops. Yamaguchi’s entire oeuvre evokes the Buddhist perception of our life cycle as a constant metamorphosis. His works raise existential questions: when does life actually begin? As a fetus in the womb? And does the moment of liberation from our body mark its ending? A deep sense of tranquility is achieved upon recognizing that in fact nothing is born, and nothing dies. Yamaguchi distills the mystery of human existence – as a transition between dimensions, as transformation through the different states of matter of body and consciousness. 

Shir Meller-Yamaguchi,