In 2007, artist Chie Hitotsuyama took an illustration job with an NGO and traveled to Africa. There she encountered a rhino that had been rescued from poachers who prey on the beautiful animal only for its tusk, which to this day, are bought and sold for high prices. “I still remember the kindness in that Rhino’s eyes,” she says, speaking about the encounter, which inspired her to begin making animal-themed artwork.
Today, Hitotsuyama and her partner Tomiji Tamai create animals, built to real-life scale, entirely out of used newspaper. Each piece is painstakingly assembled by rolling wet newspaper into small bits and pieces, which help contribute to the realistic appearance.
The artist then uses tweezers to attach the rolled up newspaper to the body, which is also fashioned out of newspaper. “More than anything else, I’m particular about the realistic feel of the animals,” says the artist, speaking about her work. “They are living ordinary everyday lives just like us. I would like keep insisting on reality and producing my life-sized work as much as possible in order to convey their lives.”
Hitotsuyama Studio is based in Shizuoka, inside an old warehouse where Hitotsuyama’s family used to operate a paper strip manufacturing plant. Beginning last month, Hitotsuyama embarked on a series of U.S. exhibitions. Her show in Los Angeles just wrapped up and she’s now moving to Chicago (Jeffrey Breslow Gallery, Sep 23, 2016 – Jan 15, 2017) and Lancaster (MOAH Museum, Oct 2, 2016 – Jan 7, 2017).