Toshihiko Mitsuya (b. 1979, Japan) lives and works in Berlin, he received a BFA in sculpture at Seian University of Art and Design in 2004. His main works are sculptures made from aluminium foil.
The first part of his current series consists of 300 small sculptures made from normal kitchen aluminum foil. In 2010 the installation won the"13th Taro Okamoto Contemporary Art Award, Grand prize" in Japan. Having collaborated with architects testing its durability in various forms of construction, Mitsuya created a life-sized standing statue made from special wide sheets of aluminum foil. The motif of each work is based on symbols, decorations and crafts that currently have lost the original meanings.
He has also produced flat works, composed of reflections of scratched mirror and stainless steel polished with an angle grinder. There are several layers which make it look like a kind of hologram or hallucination. Depending on the viewing angle, the work looks differently and unfixed, and so through the viewer's act of looking they unconsciously try to find images in them, and are drawn towards motifs that could be connected to their own old memories.
These statues and other flat works were selected for the international group show ”XXIII.ROHKUNSTBAU 2017” held every year in Brandenburg Germany. In 2020 his recent main work "The aluminum garden -structural studies of plants-" was also selected and is currently showing in the new sculpture park Schlossgut Schwante alongside other prominent artists. The work " The aluminum garden -structural studies of plants-" consists of a huge number of plants, made by Mitsuya, that are skilfully rendered using his special technique of cutting and folding aluminium foil into astounding representations of various plants.
Taking advantage of the aluminum foil’s malleability and reflective surface, Mitsuya creates plants that are fine and supple, while remaining sturdy. They are also manipulated to convey a sense of freshness, as if shining with dew under the morning sunlight and swaying in the wind. This garden is far from static. By turning a material born in a factory into one possessing the semblance of an earthly organism, it takes on the feeling of its surroundings, the wind, the light, and the sounds.
His artworks made from aluminium foil reflect the surrounding environment, they melt into the space and the entities become lost in the light. It goes back and forth between real and virtual making the experience of the objects feel uncertain. Also, his plants retain the fragility of real plants and this is very rare in a sculpture. When he was a child, making figures with aluminum foil, he often remade the shapes that featured in the stories that were going on in his brain. The aluminium foil was an ideal material match for shapes that could change. The methods he discovered to make a fine shape keep its softness are connected to those he uses in his work still today. When he was teenager, he was suffered a big earthquake, the ground was broken in front of house and he felt there is nothing stable in this world. This is not rare in Japan, where there are huge typhoons and earthquakes. The old Japanese architecture is made of wood and paper without nails. This wooden architecture swings and jumps along with nature but are not destroyed completely. In old Japan, people didn't forcibly hold nature down but rather lived together, alongside. Around the same time, he was interested in the soft sculpture art works and he entered the textile class at Seian University of Art and Design later changing to the sculpture class. After Mitsuya came to Berlin, he collaborated with the architect’s duo June14 MeyerGrohbrügge & Chermayeff, making huge structures with Aluminum foil together.
This was an investigation into how to make big structures with very thin material that look impossible. These things influenced the current fragility in his artworks. He selected a garden for his recent work "The aluminum garden -structural studies of plants-"as a motif. The multiple flowers and plants in the garden are collected by humans from all over the world. We humans living in this civilized society far from nature need nature's existence, so we make gardens and parks next to our living spaces. Today's gardens can in this way express something about cultural diversity. He is thinking through his art works that we humans in civilized society must find how to live with nature, not go against it.
TEXT for Lindau biennale 2022, Toshihiko Mitsuya