It is little known that the acclaimed Australian sculptor Akio Makigawafirst began his career here in Perth having travelled from his hometown Kyushu, Japan in 1974.
A skilled yachtsman, he moved to Perth with the intention of working an apprenticeship as a sail maker with Taskers where he had hoped to eventually learn enough to support himself to sail around the world.
It was through sailing that Makigawa met with the sculptor Tony Jones, and it was Jones who encouraged him to enrol in Claremont Technical College during the sailing off-season to nurture his artistic inclinations that he had left behind in Japan.
Makigawa’s time in Perth was important, not only did he meet his wife Calier at Claremont Tech., the education he received here would shape and define the unique style of work that he became so popular for.
“His Perth art education brought the young Japanese sailmaker into contact with Western-trained teachers and artists-in-residence whose backgrounds were, like his, elsewhere. …In Perth, Makigawa learned to measure his emerging practice against a cultural lineage that extended from the organic vitalism of Henry Moor to the Greenbergien formalism espoused by post-war British sculptors like Antony Caro.” (Adams, 2013, p. 115)
It was specifically his early solo shows at the Fremantle Arts Centre in 1979 and the Fremantle Art Gallery in 1980 that marked the beginning of the national and international attention Makigawa would grow to receive.
He became renowned for his artistic ability to capture the balance and poise of nature, the simplicity and elegance inherent in the materials he used. He had all the makings of the stoicism of his Japanese heritage, refined by the notions of contemporary western form. He was notorious for this instinct for the spirit of things, “mute, impassive marbles, in Makigawa’s hands, became profound representations of sublime human drama – the cyclical journey of life.” (Adams, 2013, p. 115)
This early figurative sculpture by Makigawa is an excellent example of his exquisite sense of symmetry, assured presence and his unique ability to recognise the opportunities of the material he selected.
His cultural background and acute bond with nature is evident in the elegance of the sculptured subject. The line of the neck tilting upwards so as to meet the onlooker with an admiring gaze offers an introverted and unimposing gesture which, as many have said for Makigawa’swork, emanates a quiet peacefulness or zen like quality. The stone itself seems to embody this character and the tones within the rock compliment the light and shadows that undulate the face.
Sourced from the Three Springs area, 300km north of Perth, the stone and subsequent sculpture is synonymous with his time here in Perth and is a tangible representation of this important period of growth in his career as an artist.
It is a rare item and the first from this era of Makigawa’s body of work to come to auction.
Adams, B. (2013). Marking the journey: the art of Akio Makigawa. In Akio Makigawa (pp. 113-121). Melbourne: Carlier Makigawa.