Katsura Funakoshi Japanese, 1951-2024

Katsura Funakoshi was considered a leading figure in the field of visual arts in Japan. Carved meticulously from camphor wood, his hybrid torso figures have subtly modelled skin and luminescent marble eyes that engage with both fantasy and reality.  Human and surreal, his figures are totems for the connection between mind and body and have great poetic ethereal presence; a deep stillness and quietude in the eyes and facial expressions, both extraordinarily direct yet serene and sublime. In his later works, garlands made of books, fruit, flying bodies and floating hands extend from the shoulders and heads of the figures embodying their dreams and thoughts.  Of these works the artist said “ When something happens, I can see lots of things which stand up from a person’s shoulder, just like an aurora and a rainbow, orbiting above the head.” 


Funakoshi was born in Morioka City, Iwate, Japan in 1951.  From 1971 – 1975 he studied at the Tokyo Zokei Universtiy and Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.  Since the mid 1980’s he returned to both schools as a sculpture teacher and in 1986 spent a year in London under the Japanese Government Overseas Study Program for Artists.  He died in Tokyo in 2024.


Funakoshi’s works have been featured at the Venice Biennale, the São Paulo Biennale, the Documenta IX, and the Shanghai Biennale, and his work is represented in numerous art museums in Japan including Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Nagoya, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, MCA Tokyo, and internationally including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA, the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany and the McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton, Canada.