Statement _ Toru Hayashi

My work is about “landscape” associated with the memories that surround my everyday life. My studio practice is to transform the landscape into abstract drawings on paper with materials such as ink, acrylic, watercolor, oil pastels, photographic images, and collage. I have been intrigued by the nature of memory since it is always with me despite its invisibility and intangibleness. When I started the drawing project “Equivocal Landscape” in 1998, I intended to make one drawing every day, representing my memory of the day as a tree. Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go inspired me to perceive how we identify ourselves not by what we look like, but by our memories. This emphasized my intent in memory and spurred me to “gaze” at memory to observe what I am. Mathematics, which I majored in at college in Japan, also helps me clarify ideas in my art. For instance, a mathematical way of seeing what and how natural numbers exist allows me to conceive how memory might compare to them.

My largest body of work, “Equivocal Landscape,” is a series of drawings with dots and lines made in sketchbooks. I am currently working on Sketchbook Vol.74 (September 2016). The original drawings appear on the right pages in each of the 73 sketchbook volumes. Since I began “Equivocal Landscape” in 1998, I have produced one drawing daily in uniformly sized sketchbooks measuring 5.9 x 8.5-inches, using a 0.2-mm-pen of black micro pigment ink. The pages of the sketchbooks have no internal narrative connections to each other, but time runs through them chronologically.

Each drawing is based on my memory of everyday life experiences. These experiences may not always be clearly defined, but I can always describe them with images, although they look ambiguous or ephemeral or immaterial. It is difficult to describe these images with ordinary language. What I aim to create in “Equivocal Landscape” is an abstract visual language to confirm that day from my personal gaze and experience of my daily surroundings. Creating this work has led me to realize that we can never visualize ourselves directly, but must conceive ourselves according to what our memories tell us about the nature of ourselves. Each drawing has become central to presenting my personal identity.

I have added color annotations on the back of each leaf by conceiving the color of that particular day starting with Sketchbook Vol. 33 (2008).

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