Haroshi ‘Virtual Reality’ Solo Exhibition Recap

January 15, 2013

Jonathan LeVine Gallery is pleased to present Virtual Reality, a series of new works by Tokyo-based Japanese artist Haroshi, in what will be his second solo exhibition at the gallery.

Haroshi creates three-dimensional wooden sculptures with used skateboard decks as his primary medium. He often uses the wheels and other hardware parts as accents, even the grip tape for a sanding tool. He achieves a vibrant striped pattern by stacking the boards with keen attention to the exposed rails (outer edges). After a careful selection process, he stacks decks into layers, cutting them into cubes to form mosaics patterns, assembles them into a desired shape and meticulously carves each form by hand with an uncanny level of skill and precision. Themes in this exhibition include concepts familiar to any skater or artist such as: injury, recovery, obsession, perseverance, healing and growth.

Haroshi does not apply any paint or pigment to his materials, allowing the bright colors of the decks to serve as his palette, since skateboards are made of processed plywood—pressed into molded shapes and printed with graphics. He occasionally incorporates the splintered edges of broken boards into his otherwise extremely polished work, creating textural contrast between the smooth silhouettes and sharp raw edges. The artist has also been known to hide small objects inside of his works, following the traditional practice of ancient Japanese Buddha sculptors, documenting the effect using X-ray technology.

This year marks Haroshi’s 10th Anniversary in using skateboards as a medium in his fine artwork. His exhibition title, Virtual Reality, is a reference to the classic 1993 skate video from Plan B, in which pro-skater Rodney Mullen displayed tricks that made a lasting impression. At the time (twenty years ago), Haroshi recalls his perception of the United States as an exciting, distant place that he had not yet explored, and how the content in that video pushed his understanding of the sport that had become his passion. In the artist’s words: “It made me realize that the potential of skateboarding knows no limits.”

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