Having said this, I found Eddie Frankel review for Time Out confusing enough to include it in the discussion because I think it represents the kind of disengaged gaze that we need to start identifying in order to pay attention to what we should ignore. In his first paragraph on this show, Frankel says:
‘There’s something about rocks that just begs to be carved and chiselled. Maybe it’s to do with the arrogance of mankind that we need to manipulate the hardest of substances, that we allow nothing to be the master of us. From Stonehenge to Mount Rushmore, Michelangelo’s ‘David’ to Marc Quinn’s Fourth Plinth statue of Alison Lapper, humans have been stamping their artistic vision on to stone for millennia’.
The first thing that Frankel should bare in mind that not all stones are equally hard, for example, marble is different from ‘pietra serena’ which I believe is the one used by Yutaka Sone and if that is the case, it is definitely not true that he is manipulating ‘the hardest of substances’. The three sculptures, which between them took 20 years to create, depict Hong Kong, Manhattan and Venice in painstaking detail. They were not even made by the artist but (as Franke’s puts it) by ‘hugely skilled Chinese craftsmen, and it’s incredible to see marble manipulated in such a precise way’. I find this difficult to read when coming from a London based art critic who, probably has to go to Time Out’s HQ on Tottenham Court Road, once in a while, which is metres from the British Museum, to be perfectly honest.
He continues: ‘That’s part of what makes them so beautiful: they’re so slight. The hills of Hong Kong glitter like fresh snow, the docks of NYC teeter precariously. Sone’s masterstroke is to make marble look somehow insubstantial’. Frankel is very confusing here because, so far, he has been talking non stop about the hardness of the material and the difficulty in the craftsmanship to now say that he is marvelled by their lightness. Is he marvelled by the fact that people can work hard on an art object?. I don’t blame him on this point. One tends to forget how that feels.
However, he barely has a point and he seems to realise that when saying that: ‘The sculptures are also permanent images of impermanent places. Cities grow, change and sometimes even sink (ciao, Venice). Sone’s work manages brilliantly to walk a beautiful artistic tightrope between the powerfully permanent and dangerously fragile’. I think that far from images of evanescence, these images evoke a new kind of view which is not orthogonal or the traditional bird eye view depicted in Eaerly Modern painting but the actual view that one experiences when one is on a plane. Putting this in marble does not ironise but canonise that point of view and we can imagine that only a banker or someone that goes to all the art fairs (maybe their wives) and think that life has to do with displacement can enjoy this ridiculously detailed kind of object. Just a thought.