Sawada's works have consistently emphasized the creation process, namely, the ways in which the material and theme are forged into a finished artwork. This process involves (1) selection of a motif, (2) observation of its characteristics, (3) guiding the flow from concept into artwork. For Sawada, this creative process is indispensable in the expression of the crafted tool. He intends that the use of different materials and working methods will result in specific objectifications (in Sawada's case, tools) whose outlines trace manifestations of the original motif. An obsessive persistence on his part means that the tool presents more than just a synopsis of its theme: even as an artwork, the object is barely indistinguishable from an actual workbench tool. A strict adherence to reality results in a more "finished" look to his works, and can be linked with a unification of art and the "real" (used, useful) object. Sawada thus strives to situate the creative process foremost in each of his artworks.
The "grid" series is the artist's self-challenge to master methods of expression that further incorporate conceptual considerations, while still adhering to his underlying artistic theme of "tools."
"grid" presents forged works with advanced design and strength characteristics, yet with no loss of the normal usability of each forged tool. The tool becomes the combined theme and material of the artwork.
When an artist uses the techniques of industrial design to ensure that each forged tool is matched in scale and form for the human hand, one might well judge these as "ordinary" tools. It is this puzzle which Sawada strives to resolve: why as an artist one should create artworks—tools whose purposes and methods of use are understood at a glance—that resemble industrially produced goods. With no intention to sell or distribute the tools he makes, Sawada ponders what kind of works he can offer as an artist who makes tools. His response is not to eliminate a tool's normal use, which he considers the very meaning of its existence. He focuses rather on the "design" features of each tool as means of enhancing their expressive allure. The "grid" series offers a view of the results.
Translated by Robert Plautz