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“I reveal the existence of ‘Ma’ to explore aesthetic truths.”

A Portrait of the Artist as a Cultural Interpreter

From the bustling metropolis of Tokyo, Mamada Kei, a visionary sculptor and artist, harnesses a profound connection with the elemental forces of steel and the elusive concept of “Ma” to craft her unique artistic narrative. Born in 1989 in Chiba, Japan, Kei’s journey into the art world was both a predestined path and a deliberate pursuit of aesthetic inquiry. The early stirrings of her artistic ambition were evident when, at just 11 years old, she experienced the seamless unity of heart and mind through her creations, foretelling her lifelong quest for artistic freedom.

Kei’s formal education at Musashino Art University laid a robust foundation in Scenography, Display, and Fashion Design, which was further enriched by her advanced studies in Fine Arts and Sculpture. It was here that she delved deeper into the interplay of time, space, and human interaction, refining her focus on the Japanese aesthetic of ‘Ma’—a theme deeply influenced by her childhood training in Kendo. This philosophical and spatial concept of ‘Ma’, emphasizing the pause or gap between structural parts, continues to permeate her work. Her educational background not only equipped her with the technical skills required to manipulate challenging materials like steel but also deepened her philosophical engagement with her surroundings, setting the stage for her subsequent explorations in solo exhibitions.

Japanese paper, wood panel

Crafting the Invisible: The Artistic Journey of Mamada Kei

Mamada Kei’s career trajectory took a definitive turn with her first solo exhibition in 2016 at Gallery HINOKI, marking the beginning of an intense period of productivity and public recognition. Subsequent exhibitions in 2020 and 2022 further showcased her evolving mastery and deepening thematic focus, each piece a testament to her intricate exploration of “Ma”—the space between objects, the silence between sounds, and the moments between actions. Through her sculptures, Kei invites viewers into a meditative dialogue with the void, the unseen, and the unspoken, challenging them to perceive the world beyond the visible and tangible.

Her artistic style, predominantly three-dimensional and heavily reliant on metal, particularly steel, is distinctly reflective of her philosophical inquiries into the nature of existence and perception. Kei’s works are not mere representations but are experiences, embodying her rigorous interrogation of aesthetic truths and the physical properties of her materials. The artist’s commitment to authenticity and depth is evident in her choice of themes, which often invoke deep philosophical questions about the shape of reality and the structure of the natural world, inspired by her childhood musings and disciplined training in Kendo. Through her art, Kei does not simply create objects but crafts experiences that resonate with the core of human introspection, offering a bridge between the tangible and the ethereal.

3/2 F
empty can, aviation veneer, Japanese paper, colored paper


Harmonizing Environment and Creativity

Mamada Kei’s creative sanctum is a finely tuned environment where the practical meets the philosophical, reflecting her meticulous approach to the art-making process. Essential to her studio is the concept of “Meisoujyouki,” a principle emphasizing the necessity of a bright window and a clean desk. This philosophy underscores a ritualistic cleanliness that Kei maintains not just for aesthetics but as a fundamental part of her creative reset at the end of each day. Despite the inevitable chaos that accompanies her artistic production, she ensures that each session ends with the restoration of order, preparing the space—and herself—for the next day’s creative endeavors.

The organization of her time is as disciplined as her studio’s physical arrangement. Kei adheres to a strict routine that segments her day into dedicated periods of work, rest, and reflection, allowing her to maximize her artistic focus and maintain mental clarity. This regimentation is crucial, especially considering the physically demanding and potentially hazardous nature of working with materials like steel and employing tools such as disk grinders and welding machines. By aligning her work schedule with the daylight hours, Kei not only ensures the visual accuracy of her intricate sculptures but also safeguards her physical well-being, thus sustaining her ability to continue creating.

Japanese ink, wood panel, polishing powder

The Intimate Reflections of Mamada Kei

Among the myriad of creations that Mamada Kei has brought into existence, the artwork “Mado □” holds a particularly special place in her oeuvre. Created in 2022, this piece uniquely blends steel and wood to explore the concept of windows as metaphysical portals connecting the internal with the external. The steel components, composed of 4.5 mm layers bolted together, juxtapose with the warmth of wood, comprising plywood, colored paper, and Japanese paper. This artwork is not merely a visual spectacle but an invitation to perceive the unobservable—temperature, air density, and tactile sensations.

“Mado □” represents a synthesis of Kei’s artistic philosophy and her innovative use of materials, allowing her to transcend the inherent limitations of steel’s weight and rigidity. The process of creating “Mado □” was preceded by extensive drawing, which Kei considers the genesis of her artistic process. Through these preliminary sketches, she engaged deeply with the invisible qualities of her subjects, setting the stage for their eventual material realization. This piece encapsulates her ability to render the intangible tangible, inviting viewers to explore beyond what is seen and touch upon the essence of what it means to truly perceive.

mado o
steel, plywood, colored paper, Japanese paper

mado ⬜︎
steel, plywood, colored paper, Japanese paper

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