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  • It is a welcome privilege to comment on the work of my friend, Michio Ihara, the sculptor. According to a well-known optical phenomenon, each angle of vision has its own optical projection, its own perspective. A visual image of a physical object seen close up appears larger and clearer than it does from far away. Perspective depends upon the viewer's position in relation to the object seen. The estimation of creative person and his work has its own perspective - it depends upon the angle of vision of the viewer, his human position in relation to the observed. My old friendship with Ihara, my closeness to his sprit, I believe gave me a clearer sharper view, which increased my estimation of him and his work. I believe that my understanding of Michio Ihara's creative value gained through the long years of friendship and collaboration.

    Ihara is fortunate artist. Circumstances brought to him a confluence of the best qualities of two different cultures. His unfailing sensibility stems from his Japanese background, as does his impressive mastery of the craft he applies to form his work. His disciplined clear awareness of the artistic means and goals given by our complex industrial society was developed during his contact with the problems of the scientific technology of a most powerful Western industrial nation.

    It is recognized that the strongest growth, the most potent events, emerges at the boundary of different energy levels. Creative vitality is most vigorous when inherited values, attitudes new perspectives and new potentials meet each other. Nineteen century science considered “interbreeding” fundamental to the improvement of species, and thus and fundamental to evolutionary progress. Today we begin to recognize that in this complex interdependent total of twentieth century scientific technology, “interthinking” the confluence of knowledge, social outlook, aspirations, and artistic sensibilities appear to be the best guarantee to the security and enrichment of our contemporary life. Michio Ihara's sensibility, creative intelligence, and imaginative power made the best use of his heritage and the dynamic horizon of his environment.

    Ihara became a “builder” in deepest and most fundamental meaning of the world. He constructs his sculptures with precision and innovating insights. He respects, recognizes and utilizes a significant contemporary construction method; he builds his sculptures from modules. His artistic forms are imaginative explorations of modular coordination. Modular coordination in its aspect of standardized products and manufactured processes is inherent in the condition of our time. To live up to twentieth century material standards our productive economy has taken the dynamic direction of continuous expansion through.

    Mass production; its great need is to produce the greatest quantity with the greatest economy of means. There is an increasing tendency to produce standard units, which could interlock with he greatest combinatory possibilities. Radio sets are made with standardized tube and components, buildings are assembled from prefabricated members, machines have interchangeable parts. Buildings, bridges, motorcars, have endowed the modular relation with vital importance in human thought and activity. The new building concepts have to find their poetic projections - modular combinations, their artistic equivalent. Ihara recognized these needs. His structures are as contemporary as a television tower or as a supporting pylon of high power wires, His lace-like space textures in spite of their shimmering, elusive lightness, achieve clarity and impressive stability. Although these fluid, vibrating, transparent, free texture fields are afloat with impressive freedom in space, they always have a clearly legible spatial coherence. They are architectonic in the most fundamental true meaning of the word.

    Due to their intrinsic architectural quality, Ihara's works retain their convincing artistic strength in whatever scale they may appear; and for the same reason - his vibrating space forms fit comfortably within any truly contemporary architectural surroundings. Ihara is not weighted down by soul-searching explorations. His work is not disturbed by aggressive, ego-bragging ambition. They do not mimic robust minimal forms. His forms are not restrained to be lean or taut, but willing and able to dance with refreshing freedom and vibrate and sparkle as the pure water of a mountain brook in sunlight.

    His work is enriching many important public buildings and places. They are in Tokyo, in Auckland, in New York, in Boston, in Baltimore and other corners of the world. Where they may be, his poetic space textures are friendly oases, place of repose, in the cold, brutal, sometimes hopeless settings of our not yet resolved cities. Though they are not made with conscious mathematical discipline, their inherent clarity is based upon the logic of their making - they radiate purity, clarity and confidence.

    —Gyorgy Kepes

  • Michio Ihara works with stainless steel, with brass and copper, but mainly he works with space. His large sculptures, carefully organized and proportioned, are condensation of their surrounding space Air and light freely flow through their transparent structure and thus become an integral part of it. Clusters of small shiny parts vibrate with the currents of air, and create an image of living and breathing forms. As a result, Ihara's sculptures seems almost weightless, as if they were merely a pattern of light beams, or a cascade of glittering reflections.

    An important component in the appearance of these sculptures is created by the changing densities of the structures. Open areas which reach out to gather space with a fine net of metal lines are interspersed with condensed groups of paralled rods which seem to restrict and compress the space they surround. Occasional moving accents of reflected light furnish exciting contrasts with the elegantly designed basic body of the sculpture.

    Ihara was born in Paris and educated in Japan. His refined taste reflects that persistent Japanese craving for the cleanest possible design, for the simplest possible functional form of any given object.

    Another factor which guides Ihara's work has to do with its affinity to the architectural environment. Many of his best and most imaginative sculpture were actually commissioned for given locations in new buildings. He has been able to work closely with the architects involved, and has successfully interpreted their ideas in his work which enhance the architectural details and which express a happy understanding between himself and the architect. There are a great number of such examples of sensitive cooperation illustrated in this volume. It is not surprising that Ihara is being called on again and again to add an important and essential element of beauty to the functional plans of the architect.

    —George Staempfli