Art Works Ushio Sakusabe

FLOATING STONE CIRCLE - Try to Overcome the Gravitation 1996

FLOATING STONE CIRCLE - Try to Overcome the Gravitation 1996
Burgkloster museum / Luebeck, Germany
natural stone, steel wire rope, tree, branch
h6m × w15m × d15m

Another Angle


  • Luebecker Nachrichten Newspaper  4. May 1996
  • Flensburger Tagesblatt Newspaper  8. May 1996
  • Luebecker Nachrichten Newspaper  6. May 1996


  • Art Historian, Chief Curator of Hamburg museum
    Dr. Jenns E. Howoldt

Trying to Escape Gravity
Ushio Sakusabe’s Exhibition Pieces at Burgkloster
Dr. Jenns E. Howoldt
Art Historian, Hamburger Kunsthalle


Carl Georg Heise was the first person to receive attention by being the first to exhibit a modern sculpture in the historic city of Lu¨beck. Before 1970, when rectilinear proportions produced from the brick construction of Gothic architecture appeared, an expressionist sculpture made by the Swedish Carl Milles was exhibited. This summer, the Japanese artist Ushio Sakusabe chose the inner courtyard of the Burgkloster, which can be considered as having a rather unspectacular construction, as the stage for his space-filling art pieces. The aura of this isolated space, which is a square area surrounded by cloisters from the 14th century, was quite simply just the place for this Japanese artist’s meditative art piece. That is, the “experience unbarred from anyone or anything” that was expected of his exhibition piece was possible in this location. The artist was struck by the uniformity with the balance of this construction and the simple symmetry of the location, and selected this place as the exhibition space for his art piece 2 years ago. After having an in-depth meeting with the curator of Burgkloster Museum, preparations were made, and by receiving patronage from public institutions for the procurement of materials, such as branches of trees, the art piece was completed. Ushio Sakusabe (born in 1954) studied sculpture at Tokyo Zokei University and Tama Art University, and in Japan and the Asia-Pacific rim, where he has been presenting his art pieces since the end of the 70s, his name is familiar. In Germany, starting with an outdoor exhibition in Endeholtz in 1993, the next year, Sakusabe held a personal exhibition at Trittauer Wassermu¨hle. There is little variation in the materials that Sakusabe uses for his art works. He uses stones, branches, ropes, wires, and sometimes bamboo and cloth. Sakusabe always uses simple stones in their natural state to express the concept of his art pieces. In other words, he is aware of gravity, yet at the same time, through aesthetic molding, he is also able to express weightlessness. Sakusabe has already created numerous pieces with this concept. At Burgkloster, twelve stones, forming a ring, were fixed into place using wires strung high over the viewers’ heads. This ring of stones prominently signifies Sakusabe’s achievement of completion and a high degree of clarity. From this art piece, one gets, first of all, the impression that these stones are floating in air. When one approaches closer to the art piece and steps into the cavity in the center of the structure, an equilibrium and balance originating from the static formation is drawn forth. The arrangement of the stones, wires, and branches produce an equilibrium, and their weight and tension express a figurative balance. Sakusabe has developed a ring symbolizing timeless “perfection” into a fundamental principle of the order held by materials in their natural state. The “floating” stones and the stones placed on top of dainty branches conjure up the techniques of Arte Povera. In addition, Sakusabe’s piece, which is configured of a rigid structure and binding force, suggests a great spiritual background. Rocks have been existent since the dawn of time, serve as a proof of how old the earth is, and are also mementos of a dynamic development in outer space. The paintings of the romanticist Caspar David Friedrich draws on these thoughts effectively. In his paintings, granite floating on the sea symbolizes eternity. The rocks symbolize a power that cannot be drawn. Seeing the shadow of Genius Loci (Erdgeist) on a rock that Sakusabe collected from the Brodtener shore may be taking it a little too far, since even when thinking just about Japanese gardens, natural stones in Japanese culture hold a unique, symbolic meaning of being innate. Natural things, in their natural state, have been symbolized in various ways. This concept also has an influence on Sakusabe’s materials. Therefore, it is not by accident

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