Born in Japan, Dai Ban studied fine art and sculpture in Tokyo at Musashino Art University. He came to the United States in 1985, and moved from New York City to the Berkshires in 1993.
DAI BAN - ARTIST STATEMENT 2017
As a trained artist, I used to make figurative sculptures. I always prepared sketches, maquettes and plans. I knew in advance what the sculptures would look like in the end. Statements explaining them accompanied these works. They had their meanings in place, already fixed behind them. There were no surprises, no conversation between me and the piece being made. I was simply recreating with my hands what I had already finished in my head. When I realized this, and felt how limited it was, I stayed away from making any sculpture for nearly 10 years.
In my work now, the form comes first. I choose the simplest tools and materials for the process: an Xacto knife, a straightedge, hot glue, and formcore board.
The process goes fast. I avoid intentional thoughts. What happens then seems to emerge from some deep subconscious reservoir: maybe from childhood, maybe from an unconscious feeling in the moment, maybe from something beyond this lifetime. I just let it come out until the form feels right. There is a sense of freedom from conscious deliberation.
I create for myself a three-dimensional blank canvas with which I am in conversation. Subtle colors come in; I may add more colors, take colors out, conversing back and forth. During this process the light changes; the form looks different even when nothing has changed; the sensed conversation changes, the meaning changes.
Finishing the surface is a discipline in itself. I avoid decorating it, but try to keep it pared down to what is essential. With hundreds of iterations of the same movements, the same strokes, I apply acrylic compound to each surface until I find the right colors, the right shades, the right textures.
Finally the title crystallizes as a hint to what is happening in my piece. The conversation keeps going, between me and the unknown, until everything is settled into place.
I am not sure if I expect people to see my work in any special way. I certainly don't want to impose my ideas. Still, when I feel my sculpture is right, I’m hoping the viewer will too, and this will allow their first impressions to subside and pre-conceived notions to fall away. Then, perhaps, a deep unconscious process will unfold in response. Each piece, itself a record of a conversation, hopefully will call the viewer into his or her own dialogue with it, where meaning is created in the moment.