The Canadian Art Database

Nobuo Kubotae
Toronto (from a taped interview, 28 July 1967)

kubota image
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Untitled 1967
Painted steel 12'H, 18'W, 10'D

This piece, Untitled, is constructed of half-cylinder elements, 12 feet high (or long) and decreasing in diameter from the first (5 1/2 feet) to the last (2 1/2 feet). The first element stands erect, but the others are progressively more inclined until the smallest cantilevers out at an angle of 30 degrees. The whole not only tilts but aiso turns on an axis. Without this axial curve, you would have exactly the same experience of the sculpture on either side. This way, there are constant changes as you move.

My original conception was to make the base flush with the ground, or sodded over, so that each section would appear magnetized by its own force on a field. l would still like to sink that base, and so remove it from any formal significance.

My original maquette was loose compared to this final work. In it each half-cylinder was precisely that: 180 degrees. In the final piece, each measures 200 degrees, turning on itself, pulled tighter and closer to the rest. Justification for this tightening came straight out of structure: inturning increased stability. A thing is most beautiful when it is structurally soundest.

I am a trained architect. I started being interested in sculpture about a year and a half ago. I had tried painting first. Hard-edge painting and minimal sculpture are very close to architecture, and came quite naturally and easily to me, though not entirely without struggle. Somewhere in my subconscious there's a need to be romantic. Untitled is a primary structure... almost. My romanticism pops up in that slight curve!

With a limited budget, in architecture you try to do the most with the least. This trained attitude I have carried over into sculpture. Untitled is constructed of shells of painted steel. There are weight problems with steel, but to have used lightweight fibreglass would have been too costly. With steel, it is just a matter of turning the metal on rollers. For me, the fun and the challenge lie first in conceiving a piece and then in seeing how it can be made. After conception, my mind turns to technology; and within that discipline l try to produce what is free and imaginative.

My whole process of working is influenced by architecture, by the practice of building from a model. You can't build a building and then try it out! That's why maquettes are so important to me. Through the maquette you conceive of the full-scale. It isn't easy, but if you work at it long enough, it ceases to be a risk. The maquette marks the only point at which I am working with my own hands, the moment where I can study and change. Once the final blueprint is drawn, it is out of my hands. But I do not consider the hand signature important. What if somebody else makes the work? It is the concept that matters. You can conceive the thing, draw it up, then send it out and forget about it. At that point you are free to do something eise.

Time is going very quickly right now, and because events are happening so fast you can't help but be caught up in it. That is, if you are living in society. If you don't like it, you become a recluse, and that's fine too. But if you love the time you live in and you want to stay in it, as I do, then you must become involved with the speed of time, and the pressures too.

kubota portrait

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