These quiet objects by Ryo Watanabe are made of metal, the noisiest material to work with. Watanabe treats it like a living thing. Some effects he gets by scorching, others by a slower form of chance; stacking his sheet steel out of doors under the elements, moving it once in a while. It might take a year, until the rust spreads, like indelible spatter marks, or lines on the palm of a hand.
Some of his pieces are like seeds, eggs; others like river pebbles, tree sections, bird nests. Some are just dishes and bowls. One is a narrow, black sheath-like shape a meter long that hangs vertically on a one-armed stand like a primitive rune.
He hammers and works the metal into container-like forms. Welding these small shapes is a delicate task. Sometimes they can explode. Pick one up and it will rattle with mysterious unknown elements. The same thing will happen if you rattle an ancient bronze religious statue – a piece of the Buddha is in there. Though whether Watanabe was thinking of this you can’t say, as when you visit Hakujitu, where his work is on show until this Sunday, June 11, he has left to go back to Nagano.
Ryo Watanabe at Hakujitu, 1-7-7 Torigoe Taito-ku tel 090-8568-5355
See also Hakujitu