Kengiro Azuma once said, “My works signify three basic principles: earth, man and sky…they express the flux from earth through man to the sky.” All of Azuma’s sculptures have the same title: Mu—the Zen term for nothing, a concept that embraces the neutralizing effect of the interaction of opposites.
Before his participation in the 1965 Long Beach International Sculpture Symposium, Azuma had worked almost exclusively in bronze. Since access to a suitable bronze foundry was not possible in Southern California, at the time of the symposium, Azuma elected to work with aluminum plate and bar stock. Unlike a cast work, which is a realization of a model fashioned from malleable material, a piece directly fabricated from metal stock presents the artist with a different set of technical problems and aesthetic possibilities. After this change of materials, Azuma partnered with the Paramount Steel Company of Los Alamitos, CA. The company provided fabrication facilities, technical advisors, skilled welders and metal fabricators from the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) to assist the artist. ALCOA also provided more than 3,000 pounds of aluminum plate and stock needed for the creation of Mu 464.
Born in Japan in 1926, Kengiro Azuma studied art in Tokyo where he became acquainted with the work of the Italian artist Marino Marini, who has had a lifelong influence on his aesthetic. Azuma’s dramatic sculptural installations have been shown and collected in Italy, Holland, the United States, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and elsewhere.