Kanagawa is a prefecture of Honshu Island, Japan and William Pye has taken its name as the title for this sculpture, based on the famous wood-block print of a wave by the Japanese artist, Katsuhika Hokusai (1760-1849). Pye had been invited to participate in one of the Small is Beautiful exhibitions at Flowers East, and on seeing massive waves crashing on the Long Island shore where he was staying one summer, was prompted to use the impression as the subject for a small sculpture.
With the brief that he should produce a work that paid homage to another artist, the choice of Hokusai was inevitable. Pye then made a series of small wave sculptures inspired by a number of Hokusai images, and the one with the view of Mount Fuji beyond the great wave of 'Kanagawa' 'The Hollow of the Deep Sea Wave off Kanagawa' became the subject for enlarging to a full-scale sculpture.
It was challenging for Pye to work with water as a subject rather than a medium. He had to think differently about processes, and found that he could be more freely expressive than in his more structured works. Pye says, ‘Just as a brush stroke can be gestural, conveying energy and movement by its sweep and in the way paint is applied, so it is with clay modelling, which involves a range of actions that may include pushing and scraping, kneading and squashing, hitting and grabbing – all capable of leaving an emotional trace. The violinist reveals his soul as he draws the bow across the strings, and so it is that the sculptor expresses feeling as he works the clay. What is so wonderful about bronze casting is that it can transmute the frail and temporary nature of wet clay into a beautiful and durable material capturing the energy and movement expressed in the original.’