Last Saturday night, Richard Heller gallery in Los Angeles debuted Hideaki Kawashima’s latest painting series, “Back and Forth”. The Tokyo based artist was in attendance and discussed his artwork with us in his native language. He commented on how over the years, he has developed stylistically, and this show is representative of that. There is a visual exploration that ocurrs in subtle nuances of color, detail and expression. This portrait series is both simpler, yet more expressive than previous works. It’s referring to the ‘back and forth’ of emotions felt by the artist during the creation process, and by the viewer looking at them.
Hideaki Kawashima with his art on opening night.
On the identity of his subjects, there are none. In ways similar to contemporary artist Yoshitomo Nara, whom Kawashima studied under, and newcomers like Hikari Shimoda (HF Vol. 29) their identity is supposed to be ambiguous. These ghostly children, shown in a range of soft purple, blue, and yellowish skin tones, are figments of Kawashima’s imagination. They are hung in repetition to emphasize both their sameness and differences. “Back and Forth’ could be seen like a continuation of his 2008 portraits, “Wavering”, when Kawashima said, “People viewing the works might think they are seeing the same thing. But I incorporate subtle differences that in turn become another motivating force.” By cropping the portraits to just faces, they somehow feel more important, like icons or idols. Kawashima added that in fact, he does have an obsession with painting them. Beyond that, their meaning lies in the eye of the beholder.
“Back and Forth” by Hideaki Kawashima is on view at Richard Heller Gallery through November 15th, 2014.