Born in Kyoto, Japan in 1947, Toshio Sasaki studied art and architecture at the Aichi University of Fine Arts. He later moved into New York City in 1974, creating fantastic works in public spaces. In 1988, he exhibited Sun Gate, a drawing, for AAAC’s Exhibit for Public Art in Chinatown and it was later included in AAAC’s catalogue.
|Sun Gate by Toshio Sasaki, 1988|
The piece is a sketch of the Manhattan Bridge and an idea for a monument to its entrance. According to Sasaki, “I hope the Gate will impart a new ‘time’ irradiation to the old society, and traditional meanings. I think of this Sun Gate rising like a phoenix from the ashes of its own urban past.” Although the gate was never constructed, it shows Sasaki’s understanding of complex geometric forms and principles, as well as his knowledge of the neighborhood and its history.
Sasaki’s interest and creativity in designing monuments was translated in his submission for the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition in 2003. His memorial entry, titled Inversion of Light, was a moving creation that sought to incorporate the four universal elements: light, water, air, and earth. For Sasaki, each element represented a different aspect of being and living. The memorial, which included a wall of names, a street-level park, and a reflection pool, was to be a serene, peaceful place for remembrance and contemplation. Sasaki emphasized that his memorial was to be a “living memorial,” one dedicated to peace, truth, and posterity. While Sasaki’s proposal was ultimately not selected, like the Sun Gate, this entry pushed the boundaries of memorial architecture. To learn more about and see Sasaki’s design, please visit this link: http://www.world-memorial.org/Tribute/NY/Inversion/inversion.html.
Back in the fall of 2012, AAAC visited Sasaki’s studio, maintained by his wife, Miyo Sasaki. She works to support young Japanese artists, providing them with studio space and general support. While the studio is a space for this new up-and-coming artists, it is still home to Toshio’s work. To learn more about and see Toshio Sasaki’s studio, please read the 2012 article: http://artspiral.blogspot.com/2012/12/toshio-sasakis-studio.html. More recently, Miyo has created and completed a video about her husband. This short video, not currently available for public viewing, was a retrospective, documenting Sasaki’s great accomplishments throughout his life. Please reach out to AAAC or Miyo Sasaki to learn more about this video.
Although it has been 10 years since Sasaki’s passing, his ingenuity and artistic talent continue to live on in the art communities he was a part of. As an accomplished artist, sculptor, and architect, Sasaki had a profound effect on the aesthetic and artistic concepts of geometry, space, and time. He is a pioneer in the Asian and Asian American arts world.