Hiroto Kitagawa POST NEW TYPE 2008


Opening reception :
1 Oct 2008 (Wed) | 18:00 - 20:00

Tokyo Gallery + BTAP announces Post New Type 2008, a solo exhibition of Kitagawa Hiroto's signature sculptures of human figures in hand molded terra cotta. This exhibition, the artist's first solo show with our gallery, Kitagawa presents two life-size and five smaller sculptures (approx. 50cm), as well as editioned works in FRP and bronze.

Kitagawa Hiroto was born in 1967, in Shiga prefecture. After graduating from the sculpture department of Kanazawa College of Art, admiring the figurative sculptures of artist's such as Marino Marini and Giacomo Manzu, Kitagawa went to Italy. During his subsequent 14 years in Italy he encountered the specialist techniques of terra cotta work, and was deeply struck by terra cotta's ability to directly record the meeting of artist and material. Since that initial encounter he has consistently used a technique of adding acrylic colour to the terra cotta. In recent years he has continually exhibited both in Japan and overseas, including exhibitions at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa and the National Museum of Modern Art (Tokyo).

Now based in Tokyo, what Kitagawa has been creating since summer 2007 is a series on "young people today". After many years spent overseas, Kitagawa continues to observe his country as though from the outside; wondering what will become of 'Japan' in the future, he became interested in the what young people, the architects of the future, were actually thinking. As for the young people one commonly comes across, Kitagawa says he has the impression they have a sort of fatigue in their hearts. Taking up particularly contemporary phenomena such as bullying or socially withdrawn children, issues which are constantly repeated in the news, Kitagawa, acting as an intuitive filter, forms these into works whose expressions symbolize contemporary Japanese youth, with slender and stooped bodies, and their eyes focused on nothing in particular.

Yet, in contrast to such social engagement, Kitagawa's works this year seem to attach greater importance to the handling of materials rather than themes. Emphasizing the clay's texture and the materiality of terra cotta - form, touch, and colour; concentrating on what kind of being Kitagawa himself wishes to create, the results are works which seem to convey even more the anxiety and disaffection in the minds of young people today. In addition, the artists recent works include those such as 'Yamada Toshihiko' or 'Hanabusa Midori', works which assign actual names to sculptures of people who do not actually exist. These are not Kitagawa's previous vague youths or figures from the New Type series, but rather result from the artist's wish to more vividly portray an evolving "type" of Japanese person. The figures in the New Type series were characterized by their piercing expressions and straight postures, giving an air of confidence. In Kitagawa's works following this series however, being less constrained by theme, we see many varied types of people and expression.

The artist has said of his work's style:
"As for the trend in my recent work, their more material based, it seems I'm aiming toward a higher finish for them, as objects. I've stopped thinking too much about theme or concept. In my thirties I felt as though I had to take part somehow in the spreading Western styled concept of contemporary art. But now, perhaps because I'm in my forties, I don't care anymore; I'm more defiant and I've strengthened my resolve. By putting my all into one shot, into a single work, I believe I can strike them out with a single ball so to speak. Without necessarily dealing with it as an installation, I think that it's possible to master the space with the force of a single work. What I'm aiming for is my own solitary island, maintaining a certain distance from the dominant trends in contemporary art." (September, 2008)

Hiroto Kitagawa

Hiroto Kitagawa was born in Shiga prefecture in 1967. After graduating from the Kanazawa College of Art in 1989, he travelled to Italy, inspired by figurative Italian sculptors such as Marino Marini. Kitagawa studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Milan and Carrara, where he was trained in traditional terracotta sculpting techniques. Since his return to Japan, Kitagawa has been a consistent exhibitor of sculptures both in Japan and overseas. Kitagawa’s works use acrylics to add life to the most primitive of media –clay – in order to depict people living in the present day, with some of these works featured at an exhibition at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa.

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