Relief

The series of Okazaki's relief constructions with 'Akasakamitsuke' as its masterpiece, date back to 1981. From the time of their presentation, there have been comments on their characteristics; the lightness caused by materials such as polyethylene and acryl or their physical smallness. But reliefs of the same shape has been recreated afterwards with woods or metal, and exhibitions in which a number of them were lined up, show that the importance lies not in the physical characteristics of the material, but in the typology formed through them. These small reliefs were also the ultimate solution to the dispute concerning the singularity and the construction in modern sculpture, as presented by Donald Judd's 'Specific Object' or Anthony Caro's 'Table Piece'.

These constructions composed by multiple disparate color planes are at the same time unified by a continuous contour that seems to be drawn by one stroke, thus maintaining their singularity as a piece. But precisely because the planes are connected by lines and not shapes, or due to the effect of the conjunction of color planes each painted separately, articulation into different modeling elements occurs every time it is seen, the connection between differences and unifications fluctuating and being reorganized each time. It is through the possibility of continuation of the constantly adjusted vision that these pieces gain their singularity, and this is why the gestalt of these pieces demonstrates an intensity far from any realness. Regardless of their physical weakness and uncertainty, a strong impression that seems to continue forever is given to vision from any instance of minute fluctuation of the sense. Therefore, the most important characteristic of this series of pieces is that they invalidate almost all physical measurements such as scale, weight, expansion or position. Every measure including form solely exists in the visual experience and it is possible to expand or reduce that field freely. This can be clearly comprehended when one witnesses how a single small relief of Okazaki hanging on a huge plane of 5m high and 20m wide changes the whole appearance of that entire wall.

It is at this point that Okazaki's relief pieces approaches the issues of typology as presented by the architect Aldo Rossi. Already suggested by the title indicating names of places, these pieces strongly evoke the place where the object generates rather than the object itself; the field of reminiscence rather than perception; a place where reminiscence recurs only to the present. But this empty present is never given passively, this being the reason why Okazaki's relief constructions were enlarged later in order to commit more actively into actual situations. Construction pieces that develop on the floor must face the conflict with actual forces (gravity to begin with) that intervene physically into the given form. The exposure to various forces is an inevitable intervention in the changing process of the form that puts the autonomy of a piece at risk. Nevertheless, it is precisely the moment when these innumerable forces counteract with each other to reach a point of equilibrium that a piece obtains an autonomous form. Thus even when enlarged, Okazaki's pieces still remain without being evocative of their size or physical weight; a display of visual autonomy that exists apart from any substantial measure.

Text : Yoshiharu Ishioka