In Hiroaki Ito’s paintings and drawings, he depicts Japanese businessmen—referred to as “salarymen” in their respective country—in perpetual states of submission, anguish, self-assuredness, and general unrest. His intimate angles, often below the subject, looking up, punctuate the moods he evokes with these suited, white-collar workers. These men and women are caught in mid-apology, somber reflection, or even near-vomiting.
The artist’s work was recently displayed in the group show “Tengai 3.0” at hpgrp Gallery in new York City. The exhibit introduced seven artists who represent the concept of “BASARA,” which tends toward extroverted, eccentric, and defiant artists who veer from convention. The gallery says that Ito, in particular, “draws sorrowful figures of Japanese workers; he associates dogeza, a pose symbolizing apology, with hara-kiri, the ultimate apology–ritual suicide.”
According to the Japanest arts blog Spoon & Tamago, Ito is a salaryman himself, and he has spent the past five years depicting the life of those within this occupation. Ito, a native of the island Hokkaido, has received numerous awards for his work and is a graduate of Musashino Art University in Tokyo.