Tokyo-based artist Haroshi began skateboarding at the age of 15. But as he amassed interest in the sport, so too did his pile of skateboard decks and broken parts. Skaters will tell you that they go through new decks in 1 – 3 months. Some will even replace their decks every week so you can imagine how quickly these pile up. But instead of throwing them away, Haroshi decided to keep them.
One day, when he decided to cut into one of the decks, Haroshi discovered a fascinating wooden mosaic pattern that was a result of the laminated layers of wood. The self-taught artist, now 37, has created dozens of sculptures over the last decade and his latest creations are part of an upcoming solo exhibition in New York at Jonathan Levine Gallery.
“Still Pushing Despite the Odds” opens this week on February 19 and incorporates “articles of low-technology from the early to mid-1900s. Vintage items such as neon signs, dental tools and roller skates create a striking textural contrast when paired with the smooth silhouette of the skate decks,” says the gallery. “Throughout their lifespan together the skater and his board get battered, but even so they get up again to face the obstacles in their path,” says Haroshi, explaining the meaning behind the title of his show.
Although not always visible, Haroshi incorporates every part of the old skateboard into his sculptures. The metallic, non-malleable parts are often placed in the center as a “soul” of the sculpture. The process mimics a certain Japanese tradition: the sculpting of Great Buddhas. “90% of Buddha statues in Japan are carved from wood, and built using [the same method]” expalined Haroshi. Unkei, a 12-th century Japanese sculptor of Buddhas would set a crystal ball called Shin-Gachi-Rin (Heart Moon Circle) in the position of the Buddha’s heart.
“Still Pushing Despite the Odds” runs through March 21, 2015.