April 16, 2011
through May 14, 2011
NEW YORK, NY (March 11, 2011) — Jonathan LeVine Gallery is proud to present Future Primitive, new works by Tokyo-based artist Haroshi in what will be his debut solo exhibition in the United States and first solo gallery show outside of Japan. In Future Primitive, the artist will introduce subject matter inspired by the city of New York. Haroshi’s work reflects his unique perspective as a skate enthusiast with Japanese heritage, in that his technical approach to sculpture combines the influence of time-honored traditional methods of his homeland with the spirit of innovation and technology inherent in its contemporary culture.
Haroshi creates full-scale, three-dimensional, wooden sculptures with used skateboard decks. As a medium, skate decks differ from natural wood in that they are a processed material. Their size, shape and contours vary according to manufacturing brand and model. With his personal experience and vast knowledge, Haroshi is able to determine which skateboards fit together seamlessly. After a careful selection process, Haroshi stacks his chosen decks into layers, cuts mosaic pieces, assembles them into a desired shape and meticulously carves each form by hand with skilled precision. He achieves a colorful, striped pattern by stacking the boards with keen attention to the exposed rails (outer edges) rather than applying paint. Haroshi occasionally incorporates naturally broken boards in their original shattered form, creating textural contrast between smooth silhouette and splintered, raw edge. He also re-purposes discarded grip tape as a tool to sand and finish the surface before applying final seal.
Haroshi’s wooden mosaic technique is similar to the ancient Japanese tradition of building wooden Buddhas, in order to conserve materials and minimize the weight of the statue. Unkei, a master sculptor in 12th Century Japan, specialized in Buddha figures and used to place a crystal called Shin-gachi-rin (meaning new moon circle) in the position of the statue’s heart, to represent its soul. Haroshi takes a similar approach in his creative process, as many of his sculptures contain a metal object concealed within the shell of layered skateboards. This is sometimes a broken skateboard part from the artist’s collection or another object with personal significance. Haroshi describes this practice as “giving a soul” to the sculpture. Additionally, he produces X-rays of these works in order to reveal the objects hidden inside.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Haroshi was born in 1978. He is a self-taught Japanese artist, currently based in Tokyo. As a passionate skater from his early teens to present, Haroshi possesses a thorough knowledge of the anatomy of a skateboard and all of its parts including the deck, trucks and wheels. He often scavenges, collecting broken skateboards to recycle the parts and use in his work. With no formal art training, Haroshi has adapted the DIY and keep-trying-until-you-nail-the-trick ethos of skate culture, into creating works of art. Haroshi’s relationship with his artwork is the same with his skateboards—they are his life, his vehicle for communication and expression. Recently commissioned by NIKE CEO Mark Parker, Haroshi re-created a pair of SB Dunk sneakers with incredible detail and accuracy, made from decks used by several different NIKE pro-skaters — the work will be featured in the exhibition Future Primitive.