Art on the Threshold — About the Work of Takayuki Daikoku Takashi Fukumoto (Curator, The National Museum of Art, Osaka) A Part for the Whole, MARUEIDO JAPAN (Tokyo), December 8th – December 25th, 2020

A white curved sculpture hangs from the black straight lines of the iron frame. It grows in clusters like a cell, or like a fruit, or like a penis…it invites in all kinds of associations, but they may be correct or they may be incorrect. The artist himself says that he is inspired by the “structure of nature.” But rather that what his work represents is not the problem. Rather, the key is the coexistence of different things and the various bipolar structures inherent in the work. The steel frame, which is reminiscent of the surrealism of Alberto Giacometti, also functions as a device for producing tension, one that here expands from the inside and contracts from the outside. The sculptor, Takayuki Daikoku, vacillates in this sense. It is not clear whether it is ‘A’ or ‘B’ and the assumption is that it is ‘both A and B’. The idea of dividing things into two, which is especially familiar in the West, often results in some kind of violence. For example, fact and fiction, good and evil, beauty and ugliness, mind and body, host, and public and private, etc. Division certainly results in a world that is organized in a clean way, but at that time one side will try to eliminate the other side. One must stay on the threshold in order to avoid this. This is to not be black or white, but keep going back and forth between black and white. His sculptures, suspended on steel frames, can be said to embody his basic attitude. Of course, his art which forms his folded drawing series, or “folded line drawings,” which he has been actively developing since 2017, is placed as an extension of this series. They are pencil lines that have been laid down in their hundreds of thousands, and which have become a colored surface, and lines that are “creases” formed by modifying the supporting paper itself. Its origami-like (akin to paper craftsmanship) creation gives a ruggedness to the paper, and s sculptural appearance to his art. His drawings are swaying at the threshold of two poles, of drawing lines and color planes, and of 2D and 3D. After all, Daikoku’s aim is not to depict something. He simply waits for something to manifest itself from the traces left by the movement of his hand on a piece of paper just to be torn apart by various tensions.

Takayuki Daikoku – Folded Drawings (Faltzeichnungen) June 8th – July 14th, 2018

In the thematic exhibition Penetrating Paper: Geschnitten – Gelocht – Gefaltet… (PP: Cut – Perforated – Folded…) in spring 2017, Takayuki Daikoku, whom I have represented in my gallery since its foundation in 2011, has introduced a new series of works: the folded drawing (Faltzeichnung). Since then he has devoted himself more intensively to this new genre and created an entire cosmos that will certainly bring further surprises in the future.

Now, for the first time, a larger group of works of this recent creative period has been assembled. Only recently, on the art fair paper positions berlin, have I confronted some of his sheets with works of Gil Shachar.

The main work in this group is the large triptych RGB measuring 180 x 283 cm, composed of numerous small square folded drawings. The invitation card shows the work’s dimensions on the inside: the artist stands in front of his work and is literally enveloped by its haptic and textured lustre.

From a distance, this work appears like lacquered leather wallpaper embossed with a lozenge pattern. The grid lines, the visible part of his foldings, are the folding edges of the paper. They unfold three-dimensionally into space with each of the strips showing an own grid colour. On the left the bars are green, red in the centre, and blue on the right. Thus, the colours are the key to the puzzle about the work’s short title: RGB (red, green, blue). The lozenge fields shimmer glossy leathery, slightly metallic, owed to the graphite that the artist has applied as a last working step. However, not the entire surface is treated evenly in this way. Rather, in the centre of each square, red shines through as basic colour, occasionally supplemented with green. An intriguing interplay between red, green and metallic graphite black is created, framed by the basic colour of the lozenge pattern and dramatized by the structures of the biomorphic form individual to each leaf. At this point at the latest it becomes clear that this must be a work of Daikoku, when one is familiar with his abstract and biomorphic drawing. The refinement of the graphite drawing has been strategically sacrificed in favour of the work as a whole, the triptych, as the artist must have inscribed the pattern with the biomorphic motifs with a pencil or the like into the still wet foundation. If graphite is now applied in the dried state, sometimes more intensively, sometimes less, a dark, oscillating colour skin is created which is reminiscent of shimmering fish skin or leather wallpaper. Through the artist’s treatment the paper has entirely lost its character and has turned into a new material, which to touch and to feel seems to be the genuine interest of the observer, as we are not only visual people, but have other senses, too. Fairly soon, the hand attempts to fathom the material, as we have often experienced at the paper positions berlin.

It is actually logical for the sculptor Daikoku to explore the third dimension also with his paper works, just as other artists of my gallery – Ursula Sax and Gil Shachar, to name only two of them – have done.

The diversity of his new work group is revealed in concentrated form in RGB. Moreover, it shows in many different ways in the individual smaller sheets, which are either stepped zigzag shapes, as the folds run horizontally, forming strict orthogonal grids, or there are folds within the paper field that do not go as far as the edges, but create a very special ‘landscape’ of elevations and depressions in the paper.

The cosmos of this new creative field is currently being explored by the artist. This is just the beginning!

Takayuki Daikoku’s present solo-exhibition in the gallery’s street parlour is accompanied by the solo-exhibition Lumière of Hitomi Uchikura. This artist also shows a work series based on paper, yet with a different artistic approach. However, both artists show to what extent paper as a creative material and source of inspiration is rooted in Japanese culture.

Semjon H. N. Semjon May 2018



In 2002 I discovered a group of tall sculptures inspired by botanical imagery, apparently carved out of slender trunks with spherical, bulging forms attached to the sides and on top of the shaft at various heights, painted and covered with Japan paper. The white and fibrous paper shows strong material properties and is sufficiently translucent to let the paint shine through. The individual sculptures belonged to an ensemble named Flora by the young Japanese artist Takayuki Daikoku (p. 45), which he was about to finish in the Bildhauerwerkstatt (workshop) in Berlin-Wedding during his stay in Berlin. Nine months later the exhibition series Interventions opened with this group of works, then at my art project place KioskShop berlin (KSb).

As I also wished to present some drawings by this young artist, he took an intensive drawing course under my direction and then, by its end, surprised with his own unique graphic creations, inspired by floral forms, which splendidly complemented his sculp- tural œuvre.

Years later, when I was about to open my gallery, the artist and his wife Miyoko moved to Germany.

In 2013 he introduced his works to the Berlin public after having spent the preceding two years with intensive drawing training and having created many other sculptures in his studio in Friesack (Havelland-Fläming region).

So I feel personally touched to present this catalogue and his recent artistic work to the general public.

Moreover, I am particularly delighted to have supported the artist with my technical and organizational advice when he was given the task of planning and implementing his major project Land Art Schlosspark Wagenitz in the historical park of Wagenitz, near Ribbeck in the Havelland region, accompanying the German National Garden Show (BUGA) in 2015. This excellent work of art (p. 49–55) is currently experiencing a reinstal- lation in the newly created sculpture park Bei Wu in Wesenberg (Mecklenburg-Vorpo- mmern region) by the Peter Wilmot Thompson Foundation (p. 56–57).

Semjon H. N. Semjon, April/Mai 2016


Takayuki Daikoku has adopted the universal principle of pars pro toto, as his own ar- tistic language is widely inspired by nature, which served as a basis for developing his own repertoire of forms.

Just as a small branch refers to the whole tree, already incorporating the very essence of the tree, i.e. sharing the characteristic of tapering towards the periphery, the artist creates his sculptures form the inside outwards, at the same time respecting another natural law: that of addition, forming a complex whole from individual parts. The forms in Takayuki Daikoku’s sculptures follow a botanical source of inspiration and resemble fruit clusters, panicles or vines, or even the umbels of exotic flowers.

Takayuki Daikoku’s œuvre comprises various groups of sculptures: works standing on a pedestal, mostly smaller sculptures as i.e. Swirl/Wirbel, Wood Cell and Column/Säule (p. 11, 13, 15), that can also be understood as models for larger sculptures (cf. Wood Cell on the village green of Wagenitz p. 4, 34), or works designed as hanging sculp- tures as represented by the Tränen der Ceres/Tears of Ceres or Am frühen Morgen/ Early Morning or other works. These two main types of works are further differentiated by the artist’s approach when creating the sculptures; they are either additions of indi- vidual forms carved out of wood, with the carving marks as important elements of the sculpture’s appearance, or the individual components are formed from a paper core with cord and Japan paper wrapped around it. Eventually, also paper balls (cf. Kugel- rauch/Sperical Smoke, p. 18–19) are additionally coated with Japan paper. Of this type there are also variants, as i.e. when the artist paints the otherwise white Japan paper with Kakishibu, a ferment from the kaki fruit serving as rust-brown stain, as on Early Morning (p. 8).

The dominant basic form in another group is a black painted steel frame with indi- vidual sculptures hung in its open ‘cubes’, as represented by renmen (indoor) (p. 16) as a solitary sculpture or Cosmos (indoor) (p. 22–23) as a composite sculpture. The multi-chamber construction with various hanging sculptures plays with the dualism of in- and outside, gravity and lightness, statics and flux or architecture and organic form.

The additive factor in Takayuki Daikoku’s sculpture has the potential to make aware of certain aspects that may be rooted in the Japanese culture. His drawing, which he mas- ters so expertly, is not of preparatory nature that is afflicted with the quality of sketches with the purpose of becoming aware of formal difficulties. It is rather of accompanying nature and must be conceived as detached from sculpture. When there are no pre- paratory studies, the artist must know how to help himself: the process of adding small pieces and assembling them to larger structures firstly mirrors the procedural character, the act of creation itself, and secondly offers the opportunity of controllability during the creative act, which would otherwise, with core sculptures without graphic prepa- ration, be associated with inherent risks. Once parts of the substance are chopped off they cannot be added back. A patchwork structure, in contrast, provides the option of checking the formal tension at any time and, by adding or removing, leading the work to an outcome that is defined as final by the artist.

The precision of his cutting skills is also illustrated with his large open-air sculpture cre- ated for the village green next to the so-called Swedish Tower in Wagenitz (Havelland region) carved out of hard oak wood. Nut- or sphere-like forms with a diameter of ca. 25 to 40 cm, depending on their position in the 3.25 m high sculpture, are attached to an invisible steel frame. Taking into account that these forms are hollow, and in addition treated from inside with bitumen to protect them against rot, and that each of them consists of two cups, meticulously adapted to enclose the steel support, the viewer cannot help but be amazed (p. 77). For each pair of bowls the artist has carved an accurately fitting dovetail bracket to prevent the matching cups from drifting apart on account of weather influence, in other words: it is the work of a professional crafts- man. However, accurate craftsmanship does not automatically imply great art. It takes more than that. But Takayuki Daikoku’s work lives up to this aspiration, which may be adequately described with a potential of his biomorphic sculptures (and his drawings!) to transcend the essence of nature. He manages to bestow a certain serenity and light- ness upon his art – full of metaphorical allusions and yet not to be determined. It is a perfect marriage between art and nature.

When the individual works are, furthermore, staged by the artist to form an ensemble – as with Garden (p. 39–42) introduced at my gallery as a key piece, then slightly altered and once more displayed at Ribbeck Castle – the already mentioned principle of pars pro toto is raised into awareness again.

At the same time, another aspect that characterizes the artist’s work can be discovered: he conceives his sculptures as ensembles in space, whether in the interior (cf. Garden) or embedded in a landscape park as realized in his impressive project Land Art Schlosspark Wagenitz. In contrast to the staging of an architectural, abstracting landscape, as realized in Garden, the artist confronts his open-air sculptures with the natural space of the en- chanted-seeming, savaged English Garden in Wagenitz.

The great opportunity and challenge in his still young carrier as a sculptor was posed by a contract from the district of Havelland to develop a series of open-air sculptures that would accompany the program of the German National Garden Show (BUGA) in 2015, and be permanently (Wood Cell ) or temporarily installed for this major event. The artist, the head of the accompanying cultural projects in the Havelland region, Bruno Kämmerling, the municipal government of Friesack and later also the municipal council in Wagenitz-Mühlenberg had agreed relatively fast on the continuation of this project in the historical park of Wagenitz, so much had his models impressed the authorities. The locations for the sculptures – solitary and ensemble works – were deliberately se- lected by the artist to emphasize visual axes or provide an ideal interaction between sculpture and vegetation. The small peninsula with its ivy carpet was an ideal place for the solitary sculpture renmen (outdoor), as the plants with their foliage formed a background in all imaginable shades of grey, thus letting the sculpture with its black frame and its white, grape-like inner life shine from afar (p. 49–51). This sculpture has been assigned to the village community and is still delighting the park visitors. The renmen-ensemble, which consists of five uniform individual sculptures, was ideally bal- anced and positioned in an area with sparse tree stand stretching along the main axis of the park. Through a constant change of perspective, when walking along the path, the visitor to the park was given the opportunity to enjoy a constantly changing forma- tion of sculptures. Another highlight substantiated by Takayuki Daikoku on a clearing in the distance was the outdoor sculpture Cosmos with a true firework of diverse hanging organic forms within a 4 meters high cubic frame structure projecting in all directions. Within a period of six months the vegetation naturally changed. As soon as the trees had sprung forth the leaves formed a dense green wall that kept growing strongly in the summer, appearing like a green screen as background for the clearing. During our numerous walks through the park under different lighting conditions it was always a great event to experience and enjoy the stoic, reposing sculptures amidst their natural surroundings. Abundant photographs taken on site by the artist in the course of these six months not only testify to this observation but can be regarded as independent works of art, bringing together an ideal but mystically appearing conflation of art and nature in the form of a lasting sculptural work – resonating, as it were, as a rare balance between art and nature has been achieved: a true marriage between art and nature.

Paper is a truly difficult material to survive in the long run in an outdoor area. The artist found a way of coping with the problem by coating his white organic forms with many layers of waterproof and UV-resistant lacquer. In the not-too-distant future these forma- tions will be replaced by whitely patinated bronze casts.

His early ensemble works created in Japan, as i.e. Let’s Make Withered Trees to Be in Bloom/Lasst am abgestorbenen Baum Blumen blühen (2001) or Coil (1998), already bear references to his future as a sculptor curious to explore the natural space (of parks and gar- dens) and testify to his firm belief in working materials of natural origin (p. 24–25). Another group within Takayuki Daikoku’s œuvre are his drawings, so far produced on European standard A4-size paper. Over the recent years Takayuki Daikoku created a wide variety of works.

There are sheets, mostly from 2011, that can be described as accompanying the sculp- tures; however, not in the sense of studies for reflecting on specific problems but as au- tonomous translations into a language of drawing, though not referring to representa- tions of specific sculptures, just showing some traits of these, as O.T. (01-2011) and (15-2011) as well as (16-2011) (p. 65–66).

Interesting are also further series of drawings which were developed more or less at the same time but without having been explicitly designated as a specific work group or series by the artist. Nevertheless, they share certain characteristics which bring them in relation to one another. For example, a group of drawings on black ground from 2012 (p. 67), with only a few sheets so far, which nevertheless stand out, as they show an extremely radical concept of symbolism in abstract landscapes. The thin horizontal line is represented by the paper left blank. The remaining surface is blackened, appearing almost metallic through the homogenous stroke of the graphite pencil. Fascinating is also a group of drawings from 2013, conquering the paper as woolen webs or balls, cf. O.T. (04-2013) – (10-2013) (p. 69).

Recently, the artist has made a short video presenting the large variety and range of his drawings. On the floor of the long abandoned ballroom, adjacent to his studio in Frie- sack, he assembled 700 drawings to a large block (cover inside). The camera moving over the countless sheets resembles a concert with the orchestra consisting of many individual musicians and yet generating a joint harmonious timbre. Looking back in ret- rospect at the beginnings of his drawing studies in the KioskShop it becomes evident that the artist has found another genre dear to him, complementing his sculpture.

His drawing, however, has generated another group of works: the so-called Carve Paintings (p. 46, 59–63), with lines carved into a previously prepared ground. These cut grooves show a whitish shimmer and make a relief picture rise from the flat ground. The symbolic quality, i. e. of the depicted fruit forms, creates a powerful, almost archaic presence, representing a smooth transition to Takayuki Daikoku’s sculptures without denying their origin: his drawing.

Semjon H. N. Semjon

renmen – ununterbrochen by Takayuki Daikoku (Sculptures, Objects and Drawings)  19.07 – 17.08.2013

renmen – ununterbrochen is the first solo exhibition of the Japanese sculptor Takayuki Daikoku, a resident of Rathenow in the rural district of Havelland, at Semjon Contemporary. The artist’s point of departure is invariably the material wood, won by him from raw tree trunks and strong branches, still inclusive of bark, which are cut u p into peculiar ‘basic shapes’ and newly reassembled. In further processing, using Japanese paper and Kakishibu – a brownish natural staining agent won from the ferment of the kaki fruit – varying degrees of emphasis are laid on points of form and substance, which may be read as abstract and sign-like metaphors for buds, flowers or fruit, but do not depict nature in an imitative way. The artist places his work within the Japanese tradition of joining nature with the works created by man, reminding us of pictures of Zen gardens. However, he succeeds in using a formal vocabulary that is very much his own, positioning himself within a new context, by linking u p to tradition and still finding his own peculiar language. Recourse to natural forms amounts to more than their mere reproduction but rather continuously undergoes a process of reshaping and reorganisation. The artist thereby achieves a universal conjunction that is not limited to a type of understanding based on the given cultural background. The works seem familiar and strange at the same time. Within the area of tension produced in the light of the separate drawings – they can be conceived as abstract codes for forms borrowed from nature or interpreted in its context – and the sculptures, presented in cubic metal frames and by way of pedestal structures, invocative of tables and shelves, the exhibition may well be experienced as a walk through an unconventionally landscaped garden. The playful approach (in terms of art history) to the conflictual duality of sculpture and pedestal is enriched by the additional level of reference to the reception and history of the Japanese garden as an interaction between the small isolated forms created by man within the context of what is a bigger (analogously shaped) whole. The spacious pedestal architecture, with its focus on height, may also be conceived as an ambivalent space between domesticity and functionality. Here another horizon is being opened u p, by which the imaginary garden is conveyed onto other levels, its organisation on the surface being translated into the dimension of height, thus finding ways towards breaking away from established thought patterns and arriving at new opportunities.

renmen – ununterbrochen can be understood as a metaphor for the eternal cycle of birth and death, destruction and restoration.

Berlin in June 20:13 Philipp Zobel and H. N. Semjon