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Yasuo Yoshikawa, sculptor, installation artist, and art project organizer, was born in 1959 in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Growing up in a family where three generations lived together, he was deeply influenced by his grandfather Sekikazu Nishimura, a pastor, diplomat, and human rights activist. Strongly attracted by the art of Marino Marini, and by the Mediterranean mentality for which he felt an affinity, Yoshikawa spent a year in Perugia, Italy, and in 1981 entered Geneva University of Visual Arts where he studied sculpture under Professor Gabriel Stanulis. Works of that time include Nostalgia, an outdoor installation figuring a gigantic stone lifted into the air by stainless cables stretched over a meadow. This work was realized for the group exhibition Sculpture en Plain Air 1984 in Lancy, Geneva.
After returning to Japan in 1984, Yoshikawa started teaching at Kyoto College of Art and Kyoto University of Art and Design, and initiated projects under the topic Art-Society-Environment, a theme that would be crucial in his projects throughout his artistic career. After setting up his own workshop near Lake Biwa, he created a series of works in wood and black ink. Among these was the installation The Last Supper, which was exhibited in 1989 at galerie16 in Kyoto.
In 1990, Yoshikawa established the Biwako Artists’ Organization (BAO). With BAO, he organized two international art festivals with an emphasis on the active participation of local residents, the first on Okinoshima Island (1990), and the second in Katata (1991).
In 1993, Yoshikawa initiated Art Project Z&A, through which he organized the Paris/Kyoto Art in Residence Exchange between Z&A and the Parisian art group Le Génie de la Bastille involving more than sixty artists. In 1997, he became a member of the Kyoto Art Council, a think tank for the cultural development of Kyoto City. Work he created in that period includes the series Offerings, which deals with the questions: "What kind of ‘altar’ is built and what kind of ‘offerings’ are made by contemporary society? Do we sacrifice our time, our person, our planet, or our fellow humans? Do we sacrifice them to the altar of work, of money, of society, or of ideas?"
In 1995, the disastrous Kobe Earthquake provoked a new direction in Yoshikawa’s work. After volunteering in Kobe, he decided to use his technical and social skills as a logistician for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and took part in aid projects in the Caucasus (1999), in Kosovo (1999), and in Congo-Brazzaville (2000).
Back in Japan, and feeling the need for a place for communication in a more and more virtual society, he created ATHA Alternative Space in the heart of Kyoto, a space to foster interest in the arts, and to encourage communication between people of all walks of life. He called this project a ‘social sculpture.’
Among Yoshikawa’s most recent work figures the installation Girovaganza Platonica (Platonic Roaming) created for the 2008 International Sculpture Biennale Agliè, which invites the visitor to wander (girovagare) among the various -isms created by man, and to reflect on the power the viewpoint has on mankind's decisions regarding nature. The artist has held exhibitions in France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and Switzerland.