New Naotaka Hiro Exhibition, 'Two Worlds', is Coming to The Box | Latest Buzz | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

New Naotaka Hiro Exhibition, ‘Two Worlds’, is Coming to The Box

Explores the roots of his artistic process

New Naotaka Hiro Exhibition, 'Two Worlds', is Coming to The Box | Latest Buzz | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS
Naotaka Hiro
Two Worlds
The Box
Los Angeles
June 1 – July 27, 2024

In his latest exhibition with The Box, Naotaka Hiro explores the roots of his artistic process, reaching back to the beginnings of his practice when he first moved to America at age 18. The title, Two Worlds, referencing the psychological underpinnings of his oeuvre, is also the name of the signature work of this show — a diptych comprising a pair of monumental wood panels (108” x 156”), will be installed in its own room. Filling the space with its dynamic mirror abstractions, Two Worlds (2024) materializes a two-step unconscious/conscious process in a side-by-side relationship.

Hiro’s early efforts focused on filmmaking and performance. Owing to the challenges of communicating in English as a second language, he made his works solo, serving as actor and director simultaneously. This twin-function approach ― constantly shifting back and forth between acting and directing, filming and post-production ― was the genesis of the “two worlds” within his his practice today. As he has explained it, “I believe that my art practice, whether it be drawing or painting, has two steps. The first step is more subjective, intuitive, and organic, while the second step is more objective and alert. I repeat these steps several times, and almost two personas continuously agree and conflict with each other during the entire painting process.”

This exhibition spotlights the ways in which earlier ideas emerge afresh in the artist’s latest works: Presented along with Two Worlds will be a pair of new sculptures, each based upon a silicon face mold from Hiro’s 2013 video The Pit (Dancer with Golden Lips). In that video, which also is on view in the current exhibition, Hiro wears a mask backwards so that its lips form a hole at the back of the head. Compelled by that ineffable void and the uncanny reversal, the artist produced a sequence of movements of his lips as a type of dance, a study of parts of our physical and psychological bodies that are never seen or understood.

Based upon that original mask, two new sculptures on view — Caving (Bronze) and Two Mouths (Stainless Steel), both dated 2013/2024 — bring a pair of worlds into conversation. The left and right sides of a face appear as if they belong to two different cosmos: two personalities coexisting within one body. 

Also on view will be the new monumental painting The Swimmer (2024), the largest in a series of unstretched canvas works by Hiro in which he uses his body as a tool, physically wrapping and integrating his corporeal presence into the canvas, dyes, paints, and oil sticks via ropes and pulleys. Describing this process, he has said:

Moving across the 25-foot length from one end to the other with spray and oil sticks felt like swimming in the ocean, being buffeted by waves or crawling up and down mountains and valleys. The experience of going up and down on the folded canvas, spraying dyes and stroking with oil sticks was like tackling a challenging seascape. The dots and lines on the painting signify the marks left by the struggle with the material and size of the canvas. Ultimately, I felt like making a raft on the ocean to rescue myself. Without them I would have drowned.

Together, the works in this exhibition are records of an artist’s endurance and explosive presence, evidence of the power and energy rooted in Hiro’s exploration of two worlds that are not  isolated from the other but in a constant state of both tension and mutuality.

Will you be checking this one out?

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