Born in Tokyo in 1969. Akira the Hustler received his BA in 1992 and his MA in 1995, both in oil painting from Kyoto City University of Arts.
Akira the Hustler is a visual artist whose work ranges from performance art to sculpting. While his training is in painting, his work takes on a myriad of forms that often attempt to depict the alternative or the extraordinary as common and ordinary. He infuses his work with aspects of his private life. He shoots videos of his boyfriend and the people around him, but also considers social and political issues in his art, such as the use of nuclear power.
In 2003, the artist started the “Living Together Project,” addressing HIV and its presence in everyone’s lives as an existent reality. It gives voice to the struggles of HIV-positive individuals who cannot share this truth with the people around them. The project also urges others who have never had the opportunity to think about HIV to consider the lives of people directly affected by it; but not as lives filled with difficulties, but as lives similar to everyone else’s.
His exhibition “Ordinary Life” (2012) encourages his audience to acknowledge the consequences of the March 11th nuclear accident in Fukushima (2011), and to incorporate such consciousness into daily life. The clay statues displayed in this exhibition—from a teenager with a skateboard and a father holding his baby, to naked men embracing each other—act out everyday scenes, but some of them hold placards and wear T-shirts proclaiming, “No Nukes!” All of the clay figures have red string tied around their hands, representing their shared reality of March 11th that binds everyone together. Through this exhibition, Akira conveys his aim to blur the lines between what is ordinary and what is extraordinary, by incorporating a conspicuous, prominent activity like protesting into daily, unremarkable scenes that are as common as holding a baby, riding on a skateboard, or making love.
Akira the Hustler has held numerous solo exhibitions at Ota Fine Arts in Tokyo, and his selected group exhibitions include "Donaiyanen" at l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris (1998), "Game Over" at the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2000), "Suddenly Inclusive" (performance) at Kunst Werk, Berlin (2003), "PostGender: Gender Identity, Performativity and Sexuality in Japanese Culture" at the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, Haifa, Israel (2005), "Life" at Art Tower Mito, Japan (2006), and "Love’s Body-art in the age of AIDS" at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (2010).
Collection Lambert, Avignon, France
Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan
Text by Makiko Arima