Stone seems like a pretty unforgiving and rigid material to work with. That is, unless you’re Hirotoshi Itoh, otherwise known as Jiyuseki. The Japanese artist purposefully works with natural stones to create sculptures that are equal parts charming and challenging. He uses these materials to make viewers question the conventional ideas of what materials (in this case stone) are used for.
Jiyuseki starts with a smooth, natural rock, usually found on the banks of the river near his house. These stones are worn smooth by the water, and resemble a soft, organic form with Jiyuseki’s patient reworking. He also adds in other materials like cloth, stuffing, and everyday items to create the illusion that the stone is something else entirely. Sometimes, his painstaking process works, too; many viewers of his work are shocked to discover that they are actually stones.
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Aside from working with naturally-shaped stones, Jiyuseki also carves some pieces to resemble clothing and other soft items. He sometimes turns his pieces into surreal combinations of objects and landscapes with the addition of tiny figurines. These figurines make the stone turn into a tiny scene and warp perceptions of size, as well as texture and form. In the end, Jiyuseki’s work takes a simple piece of nature and makes it into a fantastic yet complex object.