Akio Takamori, installation view of “People / Alphabet,” 2012.

Akio Takamori and Tip Toland

New York

Barry Friedman Ltd.

Akio Takamori and Tip Toland are both figurative clay artists, but any similarity between them ends there. Takamori is a lyrically inclined, Japanese-born sculptor who now teaches at the University of Washington, while Toland is a hyperrealist from Seattle who specializes in portraying the elderly. Both eschew abstraction, and one finds in their portraits the comfort that comes from recognizing realism as a dominant trope in art history. In a project finished in 2011, Takamori reinvents the English alphabet, posing Asian figures (alone or in groups) to form individual letters, from A to Z. His charming, smallish people lean against each other and strike yoga-like positions in order to embody alphabetic forms. Considerable intimacy exists in many of the works—for example, the letter A consists of two men leaning toward each other, holding hands, and touching heads. …see the entire review in the print version of April’s Sculpture magazine.