Born Kyoto, Japan
Kazuhiro Tsuji is a contemporary hyperrealist sculptor living and working in Los Angeles. After working 25 years as a special effects makeup artist in Hollywood, Kazu decisively shifted focus in 2008, dedicating himself full time to fine art sculpture. Using resin, platinum silicone, and many other materials, Kazu constructs three-dimensional portraits in a scale two times life size.
Kazu is a self taught pioneer in the craft of using contemporary materials to create the illusion of life. Having discovered the art of special effects makeup for himself while perusing American magazines as a teenager, he developed skills through mimicry, trial and error. In 1987, he found the address for Dick Smith in Fangoria Magazine and initiated a pen pal student/mentor relationship with him which eventually resulted in Kazu’s first film gig fresh out of high school. As an early pioneer in Japan, Kazu founded one of the country’s first companies of its kind, Makeup and Effects Unlimited, and worked with director Akira Kurosawa in the production of “Rhapsody in August”.
These experiences made him the obvious choice to instruct the first classes dedicated to the emerging craft of special effects makeup at the newly founded Yoyogi Animation Institute. In 1996, Kazu was sponsored by Rick Baker to work on “Men In Black” in the USA. This prompted a decade-long collaboration with Baker where Kazu was project supervisor and makeup artist. In 2007, Kazu started KTS Effects Inc. in Los Angeles. In retrospect his film career had served as a laboratory for developing cutting edge styles of portrait painting, photography, and sculpture. This led to a collaboration with Contemporary Artist Paul McCarthy where Kazu was hired to supervise the projects that have become some of McCarthy’s latest major works.
Currently, Kazu is primarily focused on producing large scale hyperrealist portrait sculpture in his custom built modeling and casting studio in Burbank. The recent work he has exhibited widely at major art fairs and museums, has magnetized the attention from collectors, press, and visiting art enthusiasts alike.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Planet of the Apes
Artist Statement 2015
My aim is to sculpt portraits that go beyond capturing a likeness. I create these heads from the inside out, bringing to life the appearance of inner thought and emotion as I layer the silicone.
Empathy serves as a primary guide to my process. I strive for a kind of reticence, an ambiguity that teases your curiosity to keep you guessing at what thoughts lurk behind those eyes. When a neutral expression is adjusted just right, it can trigger an illusion that the face is on the verge of sliding into different moods. It’s a kind of subtlety that serves as a mask hiding a complexity beneath.
Face to face, viewers approach the giant heads which are eight times bigger than life size in volume. The stillness and detail allow for close examination of each pore with a level of scrutiny not even permitted to lovers. The sculptures permit an impossibly close shared moment with the celebrated.