Continuing through July 8, 2017
The ten sculptures that comprise Kaoti Yamashita’s "Remote Ancestors” are delicate small to medium-sized structures of ceramics, tile, wood and mortar. They assume the form of scaffoldings based on quotidian real-world structures: walls, boxes, frames, vases or amphorae, and even architectural frameworks. If some of these handmade, untitled constructions recall Minimalist works by Sol Lewitt in their geometric, serial form, their apparent fragility suggests not abstract, timeless mathematics, but vulnerability and transient beauty. Mono no aware is a Japanese term for the pathos of things, or empathy toward things, which are all passing away with infinitesimal slowness (if we choose to look at things in the perspective of cosmic time).
One pyramidal floor-standing piece invokes architecture, but one quickly realizes that the walls and floors replicate the mortar holding bricks together. It’s as if the bricks had become invisible, or been removed, like the scaffolding beneath completed Roman arches. A trio of vases or vessels made of mortar skeins instead of forming orderly formations, form a networks of ramose cracks, as if a shattered vase had been glued back together, and then the original fragments had decayed, leaving only the repairs. It's an extrapolated or extreme version of kintsugi, the Japanese aesthetic tradition in which broken objects are repaired with precious metals. A small rocklike ceramic piece is joined by its skeletal double. Kitayama’s structures have a familial similarity to postminimalist works by Eva Hesse and others that dramatize and anthropomorphize abstract form. There’s poetic feeling and Zen philosophy behind “the contingency of structures in daily life” and the “innate nothingness that persists through continuous change” (to quote the fine Post Brothers essay for a 2015 exhibition in Berlin), for those who look for it.