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photo : ISHINKI

Exhibition at Assisi

The works of Kan Yasuda, a Japanese sculptor, will be exhibited in the square of Assisi. This wonderful project is significant in several ways.

Until recently Japan, with its strong economic and industrial power, has built numerous highways and river bridges in places where building had been considered impossible, bringing convenience to its citizens. One national politician declared, "There are no more places in Japan where bridge is needed. This statement gave me the impression that a dark future lays ahead for Japan. I have to counter the politician's statement with my own. There always exist places in need of bridges! For instance, we should build bridges between Japan and Europe, or between Japan and the United States.

A politician who hears my statement might think that I am quite deluded. I consider that this project in Italy is メto build a bridge of the mind" between Japan and Europe, between seniors and children, and among people of various backgrounds. Not a huge amount of iron and cement, but the marble artworks of Kan Yasuda, can make my proposition possible. People viewing these artworks may feel a certain familiarity to them, and may touch them with their hands.

I was deeply moved when I read that Father Vincenzo Coli, custodian of Assisi's Holy Convent, quoted the canticles of the great saint, San Francesco. He wrote that the canticles on wind, water, fire and earth can be related to the artworks of Kan Yasuda. There is a profound understanding in these words that goes beyond cultures or times. The words of Father Vincenzo Coli impressed me greatly because I found common features between Myoe, a great Buddhist priest in the Middle Ages of Japan, and San Francesco and have actually visited Assisi to explore this subject.

Wind, water, fire and earth. Being a Buddhist, I would like to see the works of Kan Yasuda, adding Ku (void) to those four elements, following the context of Buddhism; i.e. that all things in the world consist of the five elements: wind, water, fire, earth and Ku. What is Ku? Ku cannot be seen or touched, but it certainly exists and helps all existence to be as it should. It might be close to what is called "spirit". Spirit doesn't have shape. The "shapes" that Kan Yasuda creates, however, make people who view and touch them believe in the existence of spirit. Through this spirit, all people can be connected in mind.

I would like to express my respect and gratitude to all those people who made a resolute decision to exhibit the works of Kan Yasuda in Assisi as a cultural bridge. I hope from the bottom of my heart that this project will turn out to be very successful.

Hayao Kawai
Commissioner of the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan


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