Hikaru Narita

Hikaru Narita, a contemporary artist, works primarily in sculpture, and also creates paintings, but does not consider himself a painter. Usually, an exhibition consists of a single series of Narita’s works, but for this, his first exhibition in Hong Kong, three series will be pre- sented. Narita’s visual language is based on animation and toys, and his worldview, full of lovable characters, is at first glance pop and catchy. However, when one examines the changes in his work over the course of his career and the relationships between his works, it becomes clear that his work is a hybrid of distortion, weirdness, smells of death, and a love towards these motifs. His wood sculptures most strongly reflect his aspect as a sculptor, who explores three-dimensional forms and the relationship between objects and space. The characters he uses as motifs for his sculptures are the inhabitants of an animated world, in which depth does not exist from the start. Narita thought about how to express them as sculptures by summoning them into the three-dimensional world, where they have no depth, and arrived at the idea of “crushing the depth”. This is the reason the works are extremely thin. What would happen if, for example as seen in the wolf sculpture GAO–!!, you were to twist your body, in a distorted world where in depth itself has been completely crushed? At that point where is the face, as in the front of the sculpture? While asking these kinds of questions, the artist simultaneously attempts to two-dimensionalize these sculptures. It is no exaggeration to say that Narita’s series of FRP sculptures, made from enlarged discarded toys, which he began showing around 2015, has made him an artist to watch. After exhibiting a series of works, Narita moved on to a new style of expression for health reasons (FRP, a fiberglass-based material, is notorious for its effects on the human body), and he has since moved away from FRP. However, after several years had passed, the earlier FRP sculptures, when reproduced, gave a completely different impression from his previous works. Narita, the former necromancer of grumpy, scruffy toy zombies, has become a producer of solid, mirror-finished cyborgs. A more open-ended appeal – more pop, it would seem, in this group of works – but is the wilderness outside the window, and are the little birds aware that they have an outside enemy with sharp fangs? The flowers, too, have an excessively smooth texture and all three have the same shape, and they do not seem to be the naturally blooming flowers we know. The work seems to express the dilemma of not being able to stop loving the excessively processed, reproduced, and controlled beings produced in a world filled with capitalism. Narita describes himself as “not a painter.” The paintings he creates outline his concepts in a different way from his sculptures, and help us understand what he is pursuing as an artist. With the widespread use of smartphones, what people see today is always a mixture of real and fiction. Narita, who materializes the existence of the fictional world, into sculpture in the real world, is keenly aware of the reali- ty of the current era, and the intersection of these two worlds is a common thread throughout Narita’s work. The paintings in this exhibi- tion are rectangular in shape, resembling smartphone displays, and depicted on these rectangles are Narita’s collection of discarded toys. There is one important point here. Narita says that although the transition between two and three dimensions is in the opposite direction, they certainly share a common idea: sculptural works that transform flat entities into three-dimensional forms, and three-dimensional toys into flat pictorial works. The inhabitants of the animation world are given life only when they are in motion, and their continuous movement can be seen as a fluid. Death awaits them, and Narita anchors them in the material world by sculpting them. Even discarded toys, which are left to decay, the image of them are fixed to the canvas with a spray of paint. It is an act that gives the object a stronger permanence. These formless images from the world of the imagination are fluid bodies that acquire life by continuing to move. As long as they are alive, they cannot part from death. Even if death is the order of nature, it is the zombies and cyborgs of Narita’s work that resist this dilemma and attempt to touch eternity.