Good sculpture stirs people’s thinking and imagination. It endows space with a feeling of stability and calm. The prize-winning works selected in the three competitions held so far and installed in Yukuhashi have given our town a fresh atmosphere it did not have before.
The statue installed in the lobby of the newly built municipal library shows Hippocrates in contemplation, imitating the classic pose of the Maitreya Buddha (Buddha of the Future), expresses the coming together and harmony between Eastern and Western civilizations. It seems to point the way to the library’s future as the crossroads of knowledge spanning past and present, East and West. Given that Yukuhashi is thought to have been part of the ancient Yamatai kingdom, the statue before the Historical Museum depicting Japan’s early ruler, Himiko, connects us with images of antiquity, as if Himiko herself had stood here. In the concourse at Yukuhashi Station, the dynamic figure of the young Suematsu Kencho, as he set off for Tokyo filled with ambitions and dreams for the modernization of Japan, fills people with hope and aspiration toward the future. These works brilliantly showcase the awesome power of art.
Although work in realistic sculpture has lost momentum in the general tide of new developments in three-dimensional art, we decided to limit the prize competition to sculptures in the figurative style. Would that put us behind the times? We did not think so. Rather, we purposefully chose figurative sculpture in pursuit of a reappreciation for and exploration of the possibilities of sculptural expression as it has continued from Greek and Roman times. The territory of figurative sculpture is expanding. What we sought was not simply the representation of a person but a work that could capture the inner life of the historical figure chosen as the theme. We welcome works that challenge and redefine figurative sculpture as never before.
We look forward with great anticipation to seeing what historical figures will be chosen and in what way they will be given expression.
Art Historian; President, Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art
Sculptor; Professor Emeritus at Joetsu University of Education
Editor; former Art Editor at Kodansha International Ltd.
Mayor of Yukuhashi City
The winner of the 2017 Yukuhashi Sculpture Competition