Hikari Shimoda contemplates the nature of good and evil throughout her body of work. Deceptively naive at a first glance, her brightly-colored paintings feature child characters grappling with the destruction of the world. Their physical scars and zombie-like eyes hint at the brutality they have witnessed. Shimoda’s latest solo show, which features new works as well as a retrospective, opens at Artcomplex Center of Tokyo on January 14 with a reception on January 17.
The word “hero” frequently pops up in Shimoda’s pieces, a motif she connects with a moral quandary she grapples with. Is war a part of human nature, or can we be saved from our constant suffering? “In order to save the world, our hero would have to rid the world of all the people who fill it with distress,” she writes. “Humans annihilate their fellow humans. What is the meaning of ‘heroism’ for these people? Who is this hero? To rid the world of such troubles, we would have to create a hero who brings about the destruction of ourselves. Then, what is needed for rebuilding the world?” Shimoda seems to combat this bleakness with bright colors and kawaii designs, but ultimately her work laments the wrongs no single hero has the ability to right.