Sena Sasaki

Liste Art Fair Basel 2024

10.06.2024 — 16.06.2024
Liste Art Fair Basel 2024

Art Viewer

Since the Nanboku-chō period (1336 to 1392), Suiseki, or the appreciation of rocks, has been an intrinsic part of Japanese culture. This art form involves meticulously carved wooden bases for precious rocks, which are carefully arranged and displayed in decorative recessed spaces within homes. For centuries people have gathered and displayed these rocks, each bearing traces of flowers, trees, and streams of water rippling across their surfaces.

In 2017 Sasaki returned to his hometown Maruseppu, which, in the indigenous Ainu, means “a place where three rivers gather”. Moving into a large, old house built by a well-known local lumber merchant in the 1930s, he found rooms filled with the belongings of the previous owner–among them a room with piles of Suiseki stands, missing their geological counterparts. Their absence became a point of interest for Sasaki: wondering what the missing rocks looked like, their form, scale, weight, texture, colour–while also shifting his focus on the marks left behind on the bases where the rocks once sat.

Making trips to the rivers that flows through Maruseppu, Sasaki collects rocks guided by instantaneous aesthetic responses and personal fragments of memory and knowledge. After bringing them back to his studio moulds of clay are laid over their tops, retaining the traces of the river and its formations. While firing the clay structures water evaporates and the material shrinks, leaving a misfit of its original body. For Sasaki this process is a metaphorical practice of remembering and forgetting, engaging in the deceptive everyday transformations through absence and presence of body and form.

The works exhibited at the fair are the result of a month-long stay in Basel, where Sasaki spent time collecting rocks from the Rhine. Trading in clay for porcelain, these works mark the first time Sasaki has produced this series outside of Japan.

Sena Sasaki (b. 1990, Tokyo) is based in Hokkaido. Recent exhibitions include Petrine, Paris (2024); and Commercial Street at 5152 La Vista Court & 709 N hill St (2021).