In a public educational activity held in the Luxelakes•A4 Art Museum, I met the Japanese artist Yasuhiko Hayashi. He is quite conspicuous among the crowd, with a tall, thin figure and long hair. Having made a quick acquaintance and exchanged a few words with me, Yasuhiko Hayashi appears on stage punctually and greets the audience in Japanese, making a bow. Then, faced with a roomful of children and their parents from Chengdu, he starts his workshop activity named Paper Challenge with the help of his assistant.
In this imaginative activity, participants are divided into different groups to compete, with no rules nor restrictions. Whoever builds the tallest art work with folding paper wins the game. As the activity approaches the end, several tall paper buildings have risen up. Yasuhiko Hayashi signals staff to move out a crane model and put it beside the paper buildings. Then he explains to the crowd why he does so, saying: "This is what Chengdu feels like to me during my time here, with skyscrapers rolling along and a great many construction sites, filled with vigor and vitality."
Yasuhiko Hayashi, a 41 years old Japanese artist, has been staying in Chengdu since July 2017.
Yasuhiko Hayashi was born in Osaka, Japan. There was a factory near his home, and the things he was exposed to as a young boy in that busy factory have become his creative inspirations today. In 2001, Yasuhiko Hayashi and his classmate in Kyoto City University of Arts, Yusuke Nakano, founded an art unit, Paramodel: a combination of two English words - Paradise and Model. Based in this art unit, they built many complex and intricate models together using all kinds of toy parts, such as plastic rails and mini toy cars, with a series of mediums, including decorations, objects, animations, painting, sculpture and videos.
Before coming to Chengdu, Yasuhiko Hayashi and Paramodel had already been to a number of exhibitions in countries like Singapore, Switzerland and Australia, and he would change the materials or colors of the exhibits according to his understanding of each country. While organizing workshop activities in these places, Yasuhiko Hayashi have truly realized their differences: The interactive toys used in his art work have existed for over 80 years, since their creation in Japan, and are known in almost every household. In Vietnam, this toy is still a state-of-the-art gadget and no one knows how to play with it. Such unpredictability caused by cultural differences has gradually become an interesting part of his workshop activity.
This July, Yasuhiko Hayashi flew from Kyoto, Japan to Chengdu. Before that, he only had a vague impression of this city, like Sichuan cuisine being delicious or Sichuan being a major role in the Romance of Three Kingdoms. After living here for one month, the image of Chengdu has become much clearer to him as a slow and gentle city. Yasuhiko Hayashi often compares Chengdu with his home city: "Kyoto is more like an old man with very few young faces on the road, while in Sihe of Chengdu where I stay for now, you see many lovely children playing outside."
He describes Chengdu people as sharp and vigorous, and the city can always inspire his artistic creation: the strong flavored Sichuan cuisine is undoubtedly stimulating, but even the benches in hotpot cafeterias catch his attention and make him imagine modeling them and using them in his future creations. Also he notices the peddler tricycles filled with fruit in Chengdu's streets, "They are on a daily routine, opening up, moving around, then closing for the day, just like my art, which is expandable." He then makes a joke about himself: "Maybe one day I would also go out there riding a tricycle to sell sushi."
In August 2017, the annual project of Luxelakes•A4 Art Museum, iSTART Children's Art Festival officially kicked off, and Yasuhiko Hayashi, using his superb carpentry techniques, created a 6-meter tall spatial structure. The structure, consisting of hundreds of complicated zigzag tubes and toys from our childhoods, resembles a gigantic city. The exhibit is described as an endless construction site, emphasizing the concept of To Be Continued. As he has seen many scenes of tall buildings under construction, Yasuhiko Hayashi uses more crane models in the exhibition to show his perception of Chengdu.