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The Crack Magazine


Taking photographs through sculpture

The internationally recognised Japanese artist Tomoaki Suzuki takes portraits, but instead of wielding his camera phone, he painstakingly sculpts his subjects over a series of months. His jaw-dropping pieces can be seen at Ushaw.

The overall impression one is left with after viewing Tomoaki Suzuki’s extraordinary sculptures is one of intimacy. He spends a great deal of time with each subject and, though traditional Japanese wood carving techniques and, more recently, bronze casts, he brings them to life with each button, belt and tattoo carefully rendered. And because they are made at 30 per cent of human scale, the viewer is really drawn in to study the individual detail which helps foster that sense of intimacy. Many of the individual pieces have been inspired by the artist’s local community - people he has encountered on the streets of Hackney, north-east London - resulting in a culturally rich mix of ethnicities, gender and identities. His eye on the ever-changing consumer culture surrounding him ensures that each of the original figures is a connection to a time and place. 13 of his sculptures will be shown in the unique environs of Ushaw alongside four wall-based works and this looks like being one of the artistic highlights of the summer.

Tomoaki Suzuki, 5 July-15 September, Ushaw College, Co. Durham. DH7 9RH. ushaw.org