• Greeting from Executive Committee

    AMABIKI 2019, the 11th AMABIKI exhibition, opened together with the blossoming of cherry trees. The exhibition was first held in 1996 when seven sculptors active in Sakuragawa City (former Yamato Village) announced their wish to exhibit their works in the village and surrounding satoyama (border area between mountain foothills and arable flat land near villages). From the second exhibition held the following year, artists working in various materials and forms were also invited to participate. The exhibition came together through monthly meetings in which each artist served as an executive committee member.
    Through the fifth exhibition, the exhibition was called the “nth AMABIKI VILLAGE AND SCULPTURE.” However, the addition of “nth” to the name of the exhibition raised the feeling that each event was held just to increase that number, so the use of a single name was examined and decided upon. It has now been three and a half years since the previous exhibition, AMABIKI 2015 Rin-rin Road. It was decided that the monthly meetings should be not only meetings for making decisions regarding the exhibition but also valuable venues for discussions of sculpture. There was also a desire to hold the exhibition during spring, when the cherry trees that cover the satoyama begin to bloom. In this way, the timing of the exhibition was decided. This is the first exhibition held in spring since 2006, thirteen years ago. This exhibition has been created through nearly two years of preparatory meetings and full meetings. Exhibiting sculptures amid changing seasons and in different areas, the exhibition is founded on the identity of each artist as a sculptor with a basic desire to create and display works of art while living in the satoyama.
    AMABIKI 2019 is cosponsored by the Sakuragawa City and the Sakuragawa Board of Education. The AMABIKI exhibitions have been held for 23 years, a feat made possible through the understanding and support of the mayor, city office staff, local ward heads, landowners, and volunteers. We on the Executive Committee will do what we can to communicate the culture of Sakuragawa City through the exhibition.
    I would like to express special appreciation for the assistance we have received during the busy spring season.

    The AMABIKI exhibition Executive Committee
    Executive Committee Chairman
    OTSUKI Takayuki

  • Greeting from Mayor

    Sakuragawa City is located about 70-80 km from Tokyo in the midwestern part of Ibaraki Prefecture. Surrounded on three sides by mountains, the area boasts five hundred and fifty thousand flowering wild cherry trees during spring that there is a saying “Yoshino in the west, and Sakuragawa in the east” (referring to Yoshino, an area in Western Japan renowned for cherry blossoms since more than a thousand years ago). The area is also blessed with a natural environment rich in greenery. The river Sakuragawa, which gives the city its name, flows north-south through the city center.
    Centered on the city’s former Yamato district, which is particular rich in nature, the AMABIKI exhibition has been held since 1996, with 2019 marking the 11th exhibition. One of few such outdoor exhibitions in Japan, AMABIKI owes its continuation of over twenty years to several factors. Among these is the organization of the executive committee by all participating artists, and the independent nature of the event. Also indispensable are the understanding and support of an extremely large number of people, including not only the landowners who support the exhibition and readily provide space to exhibit the art works but also the local residents who warmly greet the artists and many visitors. I would like to express my deep appreciation to all of these supporters.
    This exhibition lasted around two months, from April 1 through June 9. Highly individualistic pieces from thirty-eight artists were displayed against a background of rice paddies in the districts of Abeta, Haneda, Aoki, and Takamori.
    The scenery of satoyama (border areas between mountain foothills and arable flat land near villages) in this season rapidly changes in various beautiful ways. The changes start with the blossoming of the cherry trees. The mountains then begin to turn a brilliant golden color, and the rice paddies fill with beautifully shining water. When the rice is planted, the surrounding scenery completely changes, growing a deeper and deeper green each day. Finally, the rainy season arrives.
    Along with the natural environment of the satoyama, the expressions of the works of art standing amid this scenery undergo change after change. While this may be difficult to see for people visiting from far away, one of the exquisite aspects of the exhibition is the pleasure of seeing how the works of art change. If you have the opportunity, we hope you will view the pieces over time as the beautiful satoyama rice paddy scenery undergoes transitions.
    This exhibition draws numerous people each time it is held. I heard that this time too, there were visitors from not only Sakuragawa City and Ibaraki Prefecture but also from around Japan and overseas. The exhibition is often covered by TV, newspapers, and other media, which is greatly appreciated by Sakuragawa City.
    Although the dates of the next exhibition have not been decided, I hope that it will be held in near the future and will continue to support it to the best of my ability. In conclusion, I hope for the continued growth and prosperity of the AMABIKI exhibition and everyone involved.

    The Mayor of Sakuragawa City
    OTUKA Hideki

  • Certainty

    I first visited the AMABIKI exhibition when I was a student. At that time, I never thought that someday I would take part in the event. I became a member when I was just starting out as an artist and am now participating in the exhibition for the fourth time.
    When I first took part in this exhibition, one openly held by the artists themselves, the behind-the-scene aspects were something that I had never experienced before. There was a particularly strong tension during the serious but raucous discussions at the monthly meetings. We address all matters related to holding the exhibition, and deal with things that come up. There is no pre-established harmony regarding the path to solutions, and members all discuss issues from scratch with full knowledge of the troubles involved. In this way, the character of each artist becomes evident. This is a difficult time, when every comment made by people comes back just as it was given. From within this maelstrom, I felt I was looking at a microcosm of society.
    That microcosm gradually changes in line with each artist’s path in life and relationship with society. The AMABIKI exhibition itself has also truly changed as the times have moved forward. However, it is not just about other people. When I take a look back at myself, I notice that within me, a part of that microcosm, there is yet another more compact microcosm. The various unique artists serve as mirrors, and various versions of myself are inevitably reflected.
    Society is based on division of labor. People are only able to accomplish things in the limited time they have by taking on a specialization and delegating other work to people. This is true of exhibitions too. If the exhibition can be effectively put on by dividing up the roles of the artists and other professions engaged in expression, that is good enough.
    However, the AMABIKI exhibition is not done that way. That is perhaps because, while only focus on creating your art and let the other struggles in your life fade into the background, you acutely perceive the possibility of losing something essential as a creator. What does it mean to make great efforts to always stay self-aware? It may be something like an effect that is difficult to seek within the framework of art that became self-evident once there was a division of labor – something that, although difficult to put into words, could be called “certainty”.
    If one looks back at history, one can argue that each of the various expressions that have been developed were achieved together with a particular “certainty”. It must have also accompanied people when questioning obviousness or aiming for innovation at the frontier of frameworks. On the other hand, the focus of the AMABIKI exhibition is solely on the extremely simple act of showing people works placed within the scenery. However, one captures a “certainty” in expression by accepting both meaning and responsibility in the process, and by in the end tracing the process of the formation of the frameworks themselves.
    Follow the route and view all of the works of art. The works of art illuminate the artists, visiters, region, and society, which in turn illuminate the works of art. This intricate reflection reflects the microcosm within me.
    I stand as an ephemeral state of change between the inside and outside. On the other hand, the works of art exist naturally within the satoyama (border area between mountain foothills and arable flat land near villages) life, as if unrelated to the subtleties of those flesh-and-blood people. They will likely remain in the memories of visiters who viewed them accompanied by “certainty”. With the passage of time, one’s interpretation of them is sure to change with each recollection. The more that works of art are recalled in mind or updated, the more they provide artists and viewers with a new vision. They do so while urging one to take the next step.

    Participating artist
    SHIOYA Ryota