Yuki Seli’s photos express the essence of Japanese aestethics. He explores through the light the intimate beauty of things, starting from a wide landascape to reach the smallest stone, flower, water drop, moreover being able to reflect on them the universal meaning which involves human soul as well as the sense of life.
Life and death within a single ray of light.To translate “light of jade” – literallyヒスイノヒカリ(Hisui no hikari) in Japanese –Yuki Seli coined a new word, suiray, with sui evoking the jade’s brightness and vital energy as well as subtly referring to death by its assonance with the word suicide. Over the years, the artist has developed a multifaceted research on the concept of border, investigating landscape as a reflection of the human soul. Today this research finds new answers in the beauty and the enigmatic fascination of Venetian glass. The focus of his exploration, however, is not on the finished artistic artefact, but rather on the waste material – those parts that come into existence during the production of a classic drinking glass, for example, but that are eventually discarded once the object is finished. Yuki Seli’s journey through light starts from a momoeto – that rounded shapeless piece of glass cut by the expert hands of the master glassmaker in the final stages of the making of a drinking glass. These pieces discarded glass retain the same light and colours that belong to the drinking glass and its decors, yet without any of the master glassmakers’ intention and purpose: these fragments are an amalgamation of pure, potential material, with all its primal qualities and flaws. Just like a placenta enveloping a foetus, the momoeto is cast away after the birth of the finished object. Once life has begun, the momoeto is no longer of use and of no interest. Life has deserted it.
Not in Seli’s eyes though. Yuki Seli is in fact an artist with an inborn sensitivity for natural, rough, irregular shapes, those at the very heart of Japanese art and aesthetics. Seeing those discarded and coarse momoeti, he instantly sensed their beauty and potential and transferred them onto photosensitized paper, exposing them to light à la Man Ray or like John Cage, who inspired by the dry Zen garden of Ryōanji, placed stones onto graph paper to outline their irregular silhouette with charcoal pencil.
Yuki Seli captures the infinite shapes and hues of light that every momoeto bears within, those distinctive features – unique like DNA – that on paper can disclose a magic and fantastic world before our eyes, one inhabited by animals, plants, sea creatures, and other fantastic beings. This spatial installation becomes a journey through a land of dream, inviting us to contemplation and to the discovery of that invisible and unintentional essence informing universal beauty: no scheme, no project, only the mysterious encounter of man with raw material.
More than to the finished pieces of Venetian glasswork, I feel drawn to pieces of waste material. To me, their importance resides in the fact that they are not the outcome of a human project. When I look at designed objects and products resulting from an act of intentional creation, I always feel a sense of paradox. Most people’s attention is naturally captured by the final finished products, while I personally sense a profound meaning in those forgotten and unfinished pieces. It is as if inside these discarded objects we could contemplate an accumulation and stratification of human life and history. We always feel attraction for the object’s exterior beauty, while we forget that that beauty we perceive is the result of an inner stratification. Life is short. Every day we process huge amounts of information, and we all busy ourselves trying to find and decipher what is important. But skill is not only about knowing how to find what is useful. I do not know how my photos of the momoeti are perceived from an aesthetic point of view, but what inspired them is a reflection on how that element constituting the vital bond between foetus and the person giving birth to it becomes unneeded once the act of birth is accomplished. However, that discarded element retains all the beauty of the life that has just been born, just like all the things we throw away or all the landscapes we neglect because our eyes are blinded by habit. Only by changing our inner vision can we rediscover their beauty.