Untitled, 1992. Iron, egg, and copper wire, 200 x 400 cm. diameter. Photo: Tadasu YAMAMOTO, © Noe AOKI, Courtesy ANOMALY

Everything in Repetition: A Conversation with Noe Aoki

Japanese sculptor Noe Aoki has used iron as her primary material since the 1980s, attracted by its physical properties as well as its symbolic associations and role in human history. Composed of rings and lines, her work develops from a repeated process of cutting and welding industrial iron sheets. The final forms—substantial, abstract compositions—are often transparent in construction, with the consequence that seeing through the structure becomes an important part of the experience. Aoki carefully considers the qualities of space, incorporating details both visible and invisible to establish multiple lines of sight that enter into and diverge from the openwork patterns of her sculptures, which unfold through space like installations and drastically alter their environment. In recent years, she has started to implement a range of additional materials, from plaster to glass and even soap bars.

Aoki’s work captures contrasts—between materiality and transparency, play and serious purpose, and nature and culture. Her forms offer a modified vision of Modernism, with a performative aspect—in both their creation and their reception. Viewers are meant to interact physically with her works; we move through and around them as we do with architecture, exploring them through time. All art is a kind of conversation between artist and viewers, and Aoki’s work opens a discussion about form and materials that speaks to an original experience of things.

Jonathan Goodman: When did you first decide you wanted to become a sculptor? Did studying art support your interest, or is academic training a problem for artists?
Noe Aoki:
I decided to become a sculptor only after I turned 30. Before that, I knew I wanted to create but was not sure how, or what . . .

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