(Japan, b. 1963)
Hiroyuki Okumura was born in Kanazawa, Japan, in 1963, and earned his master’s degree at the School of Fine Arts, Kanazawa. In 1989 he relocated to Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, thanks to the influence of his mentor Kiyoshi Takahashi, whose fascination with Mexican pre-Columbian art was sparked in 1955, when an exhibition of more than a thousand artworks came to Tokyo’s National Museum. In 1958, Takahashi began his frequent visits to Xalapa, which deeply influenced his artistic production. Takahashi passed this enthusiasm on to Okumura, who, at his urging, soon settled in Mexico and was similarly inspired by its extraordinary artworks and culture.
Okumura’s sculptures have always been shaped to some degree by the raw materials that have been at his disposal in (respectively) Japan and Mexico. Although he experimented with stone in Japan, he primarily worked with wood, which has been that country’s main construction material for centuries. Once in Mexico, however, Okumura was able to transition to what is now his preferred medium—stone—including volcanic rocks, marble, and river rocks. Stone has long been Mexico’s primary construction material, used most famously by the pre-Columbians for their large-scale pyramids as well as for their sculptures and artisanal objects. One of the qualities of stone that Okumura most values is its timelessness: it is always, he says, “silent and stable.” It is perhaps this—as well as its virtuosity and intensity—that Okumura most admires about Mexican pre-Columbian work. In his large-format architectonic sculptures, as well as in his medium- and small-sized work, Okumura draws inspiration from his Japanese background, while also availing himself of the Mexican spontaneity he so reveres.
Okumura is a founding member of the Jardín de Escultural de Xalapa. His public works can be seen in Japan, Mexico, Bulgaria, and France, and he has been widely exhibited in the United States, Mexico, Japan, and France.