Japanese artist Yasuaki Onishi: Why it's all about negative space

Japanese artist Yasuaki Onishi: Why it's all about negative space

Subliminally intricate

Editor: Faizal Dahlawia

Image: The Mine

One artist returns to Dubai with a room-sized masterpiece that questions people's perceptions of space. Buro 24/7 Middle East has the details…

A second solo exhibition by installation artist Yasuaki Onishi sees him once again look towards nature for inspiration. Titled Vertical Mine, the new work revolves around landscapes, gases and empty spaces, resulting in a living marvel that urges the viewer to consider: What is abstract in the world around us? Onishi sat with Buro 24/7 Middle East to share his passion for huge installations...

Your works focus on space and lightness. What is your fascination with these concepts and what do you want the viewer to feel when they see your works?

I am interested in adding volume into empty spaces. There are no specific meanings to the works, they're more landscapes. This particular new installation sees polyethylene bags moving very slowly but changing everytime, just like clouds.

If there is one concept it would be about emptiness and how with emptiness, there is the possibility of adding imagination. Just like the Reverse Volume piece, this new installation deals a lot with negative space.

What is the inspiration behind this new installation work?

While this is newly exhibited, it's an older idea, even older than when I had my first show in Dubai in 2014. The inspiration is all about natural phenomenons.

Vertical Volume by Yasuaki Onishi

How would you price your artworks?

I'm not sure of prices but I would make a minimum of at least five pieces per order, simply because one or two pieces does not make sense when you consider the artwork as a whole. More importantly, I am interested to know where buyers would like to place this installation, whether it's a white wall or a black wall.

What is the art trend in Japan right now?

Painting is still the main art form in Japan. Installations are not as common due to the difficult nature, when it comes to selling the pieces.

How has the reception been to your works?

Many of them, especially from this region, appreciate my artworks. They can see that it is very Japanese-like — it's clean and minimal. I am always happy when I hear people recognising that there's something very Japanese about my works. Usually installations would be sculptures or things which are bigger or more colourful but for me I prefer not to use colour and instead stick to black and white. I also like to utilise something very ordinary to create these installations, not special materials.

Acrylic work by Yasuaki Onishi

There is a certain signature style to your works, which is easily recognisable. Do you see yourself implementing different styles in the future?

I am open to experimenting with different styles but I doubt it would include colour. Regardless of the change in style, it would still have to do with natural forces like gravity.

Apart from installations, do you do other kinds of art?

I do small abstract art pieces. These are more decorative pieces and in a way they are linked to the bigger works. Again, they're tied in to my concept of empty and negative space.

Which work do you believe has been the most important to you?

I would consider Reverse Volume, which is exhibited at the Vida Downtown Dubai, as my best work. Interestingly though, that work was a progression of this current work, Vertical Mine. 

Reverse Volume by Yasuaki Onishi

Vertical Mine runs from March 16 – April 30 at The Mine, Dubai. 

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