Japanese artist Yuichi Hirako works with painting, sculpture, and drawing to reconsider the coexistence and boundaries between plants, nature, and humans in modern society. The artist approaches this theme through the lens of Japanese folklore and landscape, as well as his experience in London as a student.Read More
Born in Okayama, Japan, Yuichi Hirako moved to London to study Painting at the Wimbledon College of Arts, graduating in 2006. Today, the artist lives and works in Tokyo.
His years spent in London were crucial in defining the subject matter of his practice. Having grown up in a rural mountainous region in Southern Japan, London's urban green areas of roadside trees and enclosed parks prompted Hirako to reconsider the relationship between humans and their surroundings.
Yuichi's early works invoked the Shinto legend of kodoma—where spirits were believed to inhabit trees—stemming from an ongoing Japanese tradition where trees are venerated for their deep connection with time.
As noted by Stephanie Bailey for Ocula Magazine, 'From canvas to canvas, there is a sense that Yuchi intends to bring kodama—or any other myth connecting the natural world with supernatural life—out of the woods so that they might speak to any audience whose connection with nature has been weakened, if obscured.'
Taking its name from the earth's deepest ocean trench, the exhibition combines classical art forms—namely, the surreal fruit and vegetable 'Composite Heads' series of 16th-century court painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo—with Japanese folklore and the notion of Deep Ecology, which unites 'all living beings as dependant existences on others within a single ecosystem.'
Building on his fascination with kodama, this series of artworks, which includes Gift 15, Lost in Thought 65, and Nonchooser 10 (all 2021), is set in a fantastical woodland inhabited by Hirako's fictional half-human, half-tree character 'Tree Man'.
Hirako's contrasting colour palette results in mystical, ominous, yet strangely alluring scenes, while 'his surreal figurative paintings rendered in bold, painterly brushstrokes are indicative of a global trend in contemporary paintings,' as Rory Mitchell remarks in Ocula Advisory.
Hirako's work is held in the collections of the Long Museum, Shanghai; Shanghai Powerlong Museum; Lisser Art Museum (LAM), Lisse, Netherlands; Akzonobel Art Foundation, Amsterdam; Jean Pigozzi Collection, Switzerland; and Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company, Japan.
Yuchi has been the recipient of numerous awards, including The VOCA Encouragement Prize in 2013 the Outstanding Performance Award at the D Art Biennale in 2011, and the Tokyo Wonder Wall Prize in 2010.
Yuichi Hirako's solo exhibitions include Mount Mariana, Gallery Baton, Seoul (2021); Growth Rings, Warehouse Gallery, Hong Kong (2020); Memories, WAITINGROOM, Tokyo (2019); Lycoris, Satellite, Okayama (2019); Dandelion, Zerp Galerie, Rotterdam (2019); Project N 71, Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery (2018); Leftover, Dai-ichi Life Gallery, Tokyo (2018); BLOOM, YIRI ARTS Taipei Space Taiwan(2018); Seeding, YIRI ARTS, Taichung Space, Taiwan (2018); SPROUT, Galleri Christoffer Egelund, Copenhagen (2017); Haze, Satellite, Okayama (2016); and Our way to the Forest, Fouladi Projects, San Francisco (2016).
Hirako's group exhibitions include DOMESTICITY, Volery Gallery, Dubai (2021); Tokyo☆Voca, Dai-ichi Life Gallery, Tokyo (2020); Mr.I group show, Satellite, Okayama (2020); Salon d'Hiver, Zerp Galerie, Rotterdam (2019); Cygnus Loop, Gallery Baton, Seoul (2019); LIGHT, NON-LIGHT, Chapter II, Seoul (2018); Musubi, Galerie Da-End, Paris (2018); Après Toronto, Laroche/Joncas, Montréal (2017); Egg of Shibuya, Shibuya City Hall, Tokyo (2015); Considering the Source, Fouladi Projects, San Francisco (2013); VOCA Prize 2013, Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo (2013); Tokyo Painting II Mind-scape between interior and exterior, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum (2013); Tokyo Wonder Wall 2010, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2010); and The 10th Gunma Biennale for Young Artists 2010, The Museum of Modern Art, Gunma.
Yuichi Hirako's website can be found here.
Annabel Downes | Ocula | 2021
Mystical, ominous, yet strangely alluring, Yuichi Hirako has created a brilliant body of work for this exhibition.
Gallery Baton in Seoul are opening their first solo exhibition of work by Japanese painter and sculptor Yuichi Hirako this week.
Yuichi Hirako, a Japanese artist, with the theme of the coexistence of plants and humans. The idea inspired by the graduation project when he was studying at Wimbledon College of Arts in England. Crea