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Home FEATURES Hiro Kurata Interview

Hiro Kurata Interview

Written by Trippe   
Thursday, 12 November 2009 05:17
29 yr. old Brooklyn based artist preparing for a February show at Joshua Liner in NYC. We've been following Hiro's work online for some time now. Recently we've seen some of his work in person here in San Francisco at the Love It or Leave It show at 111 Minna (photos). Fantastic work and was excited to learn more about this 29 year old Japanese native now living in Brooklyn where, according to Hiro, hosts the largest percentage of "artists" in the nation... Hiro opens a solo show in February @NYC's Joshua Liner Gallery.

Ok, so what's the deal with all the baseball imagery? You a mega fan?

Actually although I am a big fan of baseball, I don't follow any teams, or players or games. In fact I can only name a few baseball players out there.. I guess I don't often see the game as a sports entertainment but more interested in the equipments and concept of the baseball. I love the texture of the old leather gloves, balls and belts. I get very excited by looking at the dirty dusty uniforms and wooden bats from the past games. It is a weird feeling but I'm sure you know what I mean. It's probably like going into Museums and staring at the swords and armors from the past and getting all excited thinking about how those equipments were used. They are simply beautiful and also contains the dark side at the same time. I feel the same way to sports equipments, especially towards Baseball related stuff.

How was your experience at Parsons? Would you recommend it to other artists?

If you want to be an artist, art school is not the only way. (Business school might be better!) If you already have your passion, my advise is to become an assistant for some artist you like, and learn as you work. But I have to say, the good part of art school was I got to meet many people with serious passion. More than any techniques, I feel like I've learned a lot by looking at people and faculties who have great creative minds. One of the great faculty I've met there was Jordin Isip, who really got me going with the baseball stuff, and luckily my classmates were people like Andy Kehoe, AJ Fosik, and Will Buzell to name a few. By looking at their work in class, I was very surprised by the passion each guys had towards what they've liked. So, for me Parsons was a very good environment.

What's happening there in Brooklyn regarding the art scene?

Chaotic! I heard this from my friend, (so I don't know for sure) but according to some kind of survey, Brooklyn has the largest population of people who calls themselves "artists"! SCARY.

Describe your process of creating a new piece.

I sketch out the ideas and overall composition on a piece of paper before hitting on the canvas. I tend not to sketch out the whole thing on paper because if I complete the details, it usually gets very awkward on the canvas. It is better to struggle on the actual surface.

What materials do you normally work in?

Acrylic on wood panel.

If you had to explain your work to a stranger, how would you do it?

In reality I always end up just saying, "amm... baseball figures." But if I have a chance to think I would say, Baseball figures and sometimes sumo wrestlers...

I relocate these figures in places they shouldn't be in. By changing one's ordinary environment, we can have a different perspective on things. For example, by putting a baseball player next to a samurai figure, we can see a baseball player not just as a sports player but possibly as a modern warrior or a hero figure. I tend to look and understand things from only one point of view but it is always better to have a look at the object from all around the angle and then settle down in your best position where you can find comfortable with. So in a way, it is a good training for me to make paintings to be flexible about ideas.

How do you pay the bills?

Besides my own work, I work at an art restoration studio in Chelsea, 2 days a week . We mainly fix paintings. Any kind of paintings but mostly American abstract paintings from the early 1900s. I started working there 2 years ago, although I was not educated as an art conservator, my boss was kind enough to teach me as we go. Now I know how to do the basic conservation from cleaning to relining and retouching. It definitely effected my own paintings skills. By having a hands-on work on various paintings from the past, I started to think about my own painting after 100 years. Basic priming with gesso and protecting it with a varnish is a must! that kinds of stuff...

If I was an artist interested in making sure my paintings last 100 years, what would be some of the things I should know?

Far as I know, Gesso for sure. No cheap house paints. Try not to mix mediums. No Acrylic over Oil. Coat it with varnish, and store it at the right spot. And choose the right conservator! Call us anytime.

What do you love most about living in Brooklyn?

People! I feel like I have a chance to meet different kinds of people here than anywhere else I've visited.

What are you really excited about right now?

To watch an old Japanese film series called, "Tora San". It reminds me of the good old Japanese style, which I've barely touched the tail of it when I was young.

When are you the most productive?

When I'm not too full nor hungry. A cup of coffee and a toothpick. Music or radio of any type that just fits that day. Usually after a good conversation. And after everybody is asleep.

What were you like in high school?

Asian punk. or at least tried. I went to a high school in Massachusetts, and all the Asians there were either a nerd, a jock, or a punk so I've decided to shoot for the punk.

Upcoming projects and/ or upcoming shows, etc... ?

I will be showing my work at Joshua Liner Gallery in Feb 2010. It will be a two man show with another Japanese fellow named Tat Ito. It should be a great show so please swing by if you are in NY.


Website: shiloku.com
Gallery(U.S) -
Joshua Liner
Richard Heller
David B Smith

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