Hirokazu Kosaka

Hirokazu Kosaka made a series of four videos, all of which are readily available on the different video services.  These videos are particularly interesting to me because of their content:  the Japanese brush, and calligraphy.  

A brief biography of Kosaka can be found at the Montalvo Arts Center, which has this to say about him:

Born in Wakayama, Japan in 1948, Hirokazu Kosaka now lives and works in Los Angeles, where he serves as Visual Arts Director at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center. As a student at the Chouinard Art Institute, where he graduated with a BFA in painting in 1970, Kosaka began to explore the art of performance, looking toward artists such as Wolfgang Stoerchle, Allen Ruppersberg, William Leavitt and Chris Burden for inspiration. As a young artist, Kosaka also began to incorporate Eastern traditions in his art, drawing from his appreciation of the centuries-old traditions of Noh drama and Kabuki theater, his knowledge of the ground-breaking experimental art of Japan’s Gutai Group in the mid-1960s, as well as his own experience with Buddhist chanting and Zen archery.

Today, Kosaka is known for his large-scale, performative pieces, which often use publicly accessible space as a platform for dance, performance, and visual art practice. Kosaka’s work has been seen and performed at venues including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Japanese American Theatre, Los Angeles; the J. Paul Getty Center; the Seattle Art Museum; and the Indianapolis Art Museum. Selected grants and awards include a Creative Capital grant, a Rockefeller Foundation grant,  a California Arts grant, and a Los Angeles Endowment for the Arts grant.

In 1973, Kosaka returned to Japan where he completed a three-month long performance piece called “Soleares” and later embarked upon a traditional 1,000-mile Zen pilgrimage called “The 88 Temples.” After completing this spiritual journey, Kosaka remained at a Buddhist monastery and was ordained as a Shigon Buddhist priest. He later returned to Los Angeles where he began to create large-scale, process-oriented artworks infused with the teachings he learned as a priest.

The Alliance for California Traditional Arts writes this about him:

Dating back to the 11th century, Japanese Kyudo – or archery, literally meaning “way of the bow” – has been used as an art of purification in ceremonies within the Imperial Court of Japan and within Zen Buddhism. Practitioners of this ceremonial and contemplative form focus on attaining “the perfect shot.” In order to accomplish the perfect shot, one must have immediate action without any intervening thoughts; this entails proper form, physique, patience, and dedication.

Reverend Hirokazu Kosaka can trace Kyudo in his family’s lineage back multiple generations, and often responds “300 years” when asked how long he has studied the art. His father began teaching Kosaka when he was 10 years old, just as his grandfather taught Kosaka’s father, as was done in previous generations. Kosaka says, “My art, and therefore my life, is the result of centuries of ‘spiritual mutation,’ the manifestation of my experience with Kyudo.”

In 2009, Hirokazu participated in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program with apprentice Ferris Smith. The apprenticeship deepened Ferris’ training in form, patience, and the historical pursuit and endless search for the perfect shot.

Interestingly, Kosaka does not seem to have a personal web page, and so in a way he becomes an elusive figure.  Searching for him on Google, it becomes clear that this is a man who is creative in ways not traditionally recognized, and his art is experiential to a great degree.  It makes the search for the evanescent tangible, and should one find a scheduled event, it may be worth the enquiry.  I certainly am curious.


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