‘Takashi Hinoda — Alternative Muscles’

by Matthew Larking

Special To The Japan Times

imura art gallery, kyoto

Closes July 23

Ceramics artist Takashi Hinoda (b. 1968) creates freakish figures whose limbs are stretched and mashed, and re-coagulated in weird and fantastical ways. The legs of Hinoda’s “To Consume the World” (2011), for example, support not a torso but a giant gaping mouth full of nasty-looking teeth. As his ceramics are inspired by manga, anime and American comics, it’s not surprising that he was coupled with fellow artist Takashi Murakami in the two-man show “Takashi+2: East Meets East Takashi Murakami and Takashi Hinoda,” at the Casa Nova Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2006. Despite appearances, though, Hinoda is an altogether different species.

“Alternative Muscles,” a show of his recent work at Kyoto’s imura art gallery, is his first solo exhibition in two years. The title refers to the evolutionary process of organisms’ adaptation to the environment to become humans. If that process had been disturbed, however, skin, bones and muscles might have taken very different forms in subsequent metamorphoses. Hinoda’s current works offer a drastic reformulation of bodies akin to when fish sprouted legs and went ashore for the first time.

Bringing together ceramic works that are conjoined sculpturally, Hinoda works in what he calls “2.5 dimensions.” His largest piece, “Master Cells” (2011), which stands over 1.5 meters high, is a figure reminiscent of Eugene Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People” (1830), as it stands, legs astride, with an arm thrust outward. That arm, however, has morphed into a cross-bow form, and several other limbs are appended.

Representational decoration conspires to embellish three-dimensional forms, though at other times it is largely unrelated to the ceramic body and instead becomes merely a surface for two-dimensional depiction. Hinoda further oscillates between two and three dimensions in the overall installation by adding line-work on adhesive sheets that are stuck on the gallery floors and walls.

His chimerical works rank among the best ceramic-based contemporary art currently being produced in Japan. (Matthew Larking)

imura art gallery, kyoto is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m., admission free; closed Sun. and Mon. For more information, visit www.imuraart.com.