A Brief Biography of the Artist and His Concepts
Born in Tokyo in 1986, Masaya Sawada has while a student at Tama Art University, his passion was metalwork, and especially forging. At graduate school, which he completed in 2014, his research focused on scale representation. But he realized that the exhibition of scaled works was not the best way for him to contribute to society. He decided instead to dedicate himself to art education, so that he could fully utilize his years of academic learning and creative research. Thus, from 2016, Sawada began working as an Educator at The National Art Center, Tokyo. There, he has had many opportunities to consider the role of artworks in society, through his planning of artist workshops, his creation of a Viewer's Guide, and his other educational endeavors.
In his artwork as a blacksmith and sculptor, Sawada calls his recent series “air.” Since 2017, this series has been his means of investigating ways of measuring relationships between humans and artworks. His "air" does not mean the colorless, odorless, transparent mixture of gases that enables life. The reference is to sensible, situated sites, "atmospheres" and spaces (intervals, gaps, distances). air no. 2 (2018) is the first work of circle and tetragon draws on "De architectura" of the 1st century (Common Era) Roman architect, Vitruvius. "The design of Temples depends on symmetry, the rules of which Architects must be most careful to observe. Proportion is a due adjustment of the size of the different parts to each other and to the whole: on this proper adjustment symmetry depends. [ . . . ] In truth they [symmetry and proportion] are as necessary to the beauty of a building as that of a well formed human figure [ . . . ]"(The beginning of Book III, as translated by Joseph Gwilt in 1826.) The proportions of this work I are based on calculations of Sawada's own physical body. The "scale" required for Sawada's search to grasp "space" (air) thus becomes the artist's own self. (Sawada himself "fits" into the space of the work just as L'Uomo Vitruviano is a perfect match for the circle and tetragon Da Vinci set him in.)
Since his childhood, Sawada has been intrigued with taking apart broken machinery and considering how parts fit and work together. Likewise, “air” seeks to explore and explicate the “spaces” or “gaps” between people and works of art. The recording within his own works linking mechanisms he has uncovered Sawada views as an extension of his own daily routines, acts along lines projecting from his daily actions.
Another focus is the iron the artist uses in his works. In the iron production process, a black layer of oxidation forms and covers the iron. This oxide film becomes a partition that divides the iron from its ambient air. The existence of iron, visually heavy and massive, with its latent sense of resistance, can at times serve as a “ruler” to measure space—Sawada’s works show us then what the iron itself inherently displays.
Translated by Robert Plautz