5 Questions with Hiroki Tsukuda

Japanese artist Hiroki Tsukuda is about to exhibit for the first time in the States, showing Enter the O at New York’s Petzel gallery. Creating imagined terrains and alternate realities, the artist works primarily with an intense monochrome palette, drawing on Sci fi and Japanese architecture in works on paper, installation and sculpture.

Can you tell us a little about what Enter the O entails?
Since I was very young, my imagination would expand upon seeing unexpected or strange things that would appear in my day to day life–for example, a large concrete slab lying in the middle of a plain for a seemingly unknown reason. Whenever I would find things where they shouldn’t be, I’d feel as if I had a glimpse into another world. The motive behind my art is to create an entrance for this other world.

Your work marries a neo-futuristic worldview with a traditionally Japanese sensibility—particularly noted in the inked shodo calligraphy influence. Does your work always seek to strike a balance between two dichotomies?
Sci-fi had a strong influence on me when I was young, so the futuristic worldview that you see in my work comes from seeing my surroundings through that perspective. While I learned shodo when I was young, the calligraphic elements in my work are not actually real words, though they may look like it.  They came about in order to combine the linear and geometric forms in my work with more organic script-like shapes. They are symbols that really have no meaning at all.

When it comes to depicting urban neo-futuristic cityscapes, many of your contemporaries riff on the bold colour aesthetics of graffiti culture. Why do you prefer to work in monochrome?
I’m currently pursuing the forms within the work. While pursuing these forms, I feel like color is not perhaps necessary.

There is a technical complexity to your drawings. How does a work come about, is there a set process?
I have drawings and different calligraphic elements that I’ve created over time, as well as pictures that I’ve personally taken and saved as well. I also collect images from the web. From there, I collage together different elements on the computer where 80% of the work is done. Then, it’s just drawing the work out. Similarly, the three dimensional works, like the mask sculptures, are collaged together from various materials that I’ve collected over time.

Is there any one definitive work of science fiction that has had a profound influence on your practice?
In terms of science fiction, movies like They Live and Blade Runner, and video games like Outer World and Syndicate.

Enter the O runs from 14 January until 20 February at Petzel Gallery, New York. All images Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York.

Untitled 2015 black ink and charcoal on paper 17.32 x 17.32 inches 44 x 44 cm
Untitled 2015 black ink and charcoal on paper 17.32 x 17.32 inches 44 x 44 cm Signed and dated on verso
Untitled 2015 black ink and charcoal on paper 17.32 x 17.32 inches 44 x 44 cm Signed and dated on verso
Untitled 2016 mixed media 197 x 159 x 110 inches 500.4 x 403.9 x 279.4 cm
Untitled 2016 mixed media 197 x 159 x 110 inches 500.4 x 403.9 x 279.4 cm
Early Memories 2016 mixed media 160 x 118 x 84 inches 406.4 x 299.7 x 213.4 cm
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