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For 10 more days, Japanese contemporary artist Hikari Shimoda’s solo exhibition, which celebrates her 10th year as a working artist, is on view. “The Catastrophe of Death and Regeneration” at Asahi Art Museum in her hometown of Nagano, Japan, features 40 new and old works, guiding visitors through her layered narrative by theme.
Impacted by the Japanese manga from her younger years, Shimoda shines light on today’s issues in colorful ways. Featuring characters in heroic costumes, references of magic, and starry-eyed children, the subjects subtly reveal struggles in modern day society through text, brushwork, and collage.
To hear more, Whitewall spoke with Shimoda about her very first piece, and her most ambitious one to date.
WHITEWALL: Can you tell us a bit about your ten-foot mural, The Catastrophe of Death and Regeneration?
HIKARI SHIMODA: The Catastrophe of Death and Regeneration is a work that is trying to capture the world in a bird’s eye view. The act of birth brings hope and joy, but being born has no impression on us and we have no conscious thought of it. I thought, what an interesting idea to depict the phenomenon of birth. In modern times, there are people living a painful life due to circumstances beyond their control, a catastrophe. The original image is based upon The Creation of Adam—generally thought to depict the excerpt “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him.” My character is decidedly born by the touch of another who shall determine his way of life, filled with hope and meaning.
WW: What was your very first piece of art? What’s the story behind it?
HS: I’ve been making art ever since I can remember, but I’ve been working with my current themes since around 2008, when I drew a character that I called “Rabbit Girl.” She was a portrait of a young girl wearing rabbit ears and a garland of stars on her head, with a motif that read, “I will lose it when I am lonely.” This was sort of the starting point of my themes and my view of the world as I paint it now.
WW: How has your work evolved or stayed the same?
HS: My work is a way for me to express the complexity of contemporary society, and in order for me to do that, I’ve tried to approach my work from various directions, making themes and my character’s expressions more complex than in the past. By constantly varying the style of my work, I’m trying to approach themes that interest me from various aspects and this helps me tackle a lot of ideas.