PICK OF THE WEEK:: From our Nov/Dec issue: Where I Work - Kishio Suga

Dec 1, 2014 2:20AM

Wandering through a bulky group show in Hong Kong last May, I happened across three painted plywood panels. Each had been drilled through from behind multiple times in a roughly even pattern, covering the entire surface with smallish holes. The top layer of wood had splintered, sometimes in tight, sharp twists, sometimes in large shards that protruded outward, bringing the layer of space in front of the work within its compass. In places, the surface had fallen away entirely, revealing mottled wood that contrasted with the gloss paint. The works were quiet and captivating.

The comparison with my present situation is stark. I’m sitting in a former toothbrush warehouse in a small industrial estate in Ito—a faded yet graceful rural backwater on the Izu peninsula, two trains and a taxi ride away from Tokyo. It’s July, there’s no air-conditioning and I’m drenched in sweat. Beside me is the Japanese artist Kishio Suga, who created the three intriguing panels. He is coping a little better, despite his 70 years, aided by a small white flannel, containing an ice pack, wrapped around his neck.