Sugiura’s “Bird’s Eye View” series is known for giving viewers an over-arching perspective on a variety of landscapes, but one of his newer series has focused on the motif of animal costumes, presenting works that combine humor and a sense of pathos.
This piece hinges on the word “lateral,” referring to both the zebra’s lateral stripes and lateral ways of thinking. That’s right… it’s a pun.
Wordplay that explores the overlapping meaning of different words and sounds can be thought of as expressing a particular type of artistic sensibility. After all, a superior work of art can conjure different simultaneous meanings within the viewer, allowing an experience that is layered and deep. Wordplay is thus a form that accomplishes this goal in the most direct of manners.
In this case, however, the wordplay is ascribed after the fact and the appeal of the artwork lies elsewhere. On the contrary, one senses that the piece’s true charm is its casual languor and the distinctly evocative expression on the subject’s face.
In the world of the tea ceremony, there is a famous saying that “rust is good, but allowing things to rust is bad.” The subject of this piece is in his natural state, free of unnecessary tension, and it is precisely because he is not performing that his expression feels so rich.
In that context, the words above and their ridiculously twisted logic can only be considered bad. We hope you enjoy the humor of these pieces, imbued with the strength that comes when we snort with laughter at nonsensical thoughts.
h58.3 × w12.3 × d11.7 cm
Colour on magnolia wood
In zoology, the spine is considered the longitudinal plane, while the plane perpendicular to that is considered lateral. As such, these zebra stripes can be said to run lateral. By the same token, this old man who dresses in costumes as a part-time job has demonstrated lateral thinking.