Since ancient times, Japan has intertwined the use of wood throughout its society, and images of Shinto deities and Buddhist figures have likewise been expressed in a variety of ways which have also evolved from era to era.
The Buddhist sculptors (busshi) who created those images did so in accordance with the locations and faiths in which the deities and figures were enshrined, whether that be in a human form or in a non-representational form. Born as the 5th generation descendent of a family of sculptors who have maintained a lineage of Buddhist sculptors, Takaoki TAJIMA grew up surrounded by sculptures of Shinto deities and Buddhist figures from all ages.
To TAJIMA, the ability to produce artwork in a diverse range of styles is second nature. While others may perceive great differences between a proportional statue of a woman and a cute non-representational statue, he perceives both as embodying a type of presence that is invisible to the naked eye.
While the gaze of the statue of the proportional woman seems strong but unfocused, and gives the viewer the impression of a merciful presence not unlike that of Samantabhadra, the non-representational statue provides the viewer with the impression of a presence similar to that of the ubiquitous gods in the Shinto belief system, a concept with which Japanese viewers are quite familiar.
These presences—invisible, beyond description and unknown—are universal, regardless of the era, and should continue to be heeded irrespective of the pressures of modern society.
1973 Born in Chiba, Japan
2000 B.F.A. Aichi University of the Arts