Hikari Shimoda (b. 1984) is a Japanese mixed media artist who uses a range of painting techniques and collages to create anime-esque characters that depict the horrors of contemporary society. Inspired by Japanese anime and manga, Shimoda’s work features starry-eyed “cute” children staring aimlessly into the void. As you step into the exhibition, the bright colors, big eyes, and glittery stickers gives you a sense of innocence and delight; upon careful inspection, however, their slit throats and bruised complexions might just make you second-guess the meaning behind her work.
There is light in darkness—and in the fantasy world of Shimoda’s children of innocence, there is a dystopian notion that humans are destructive and narrow-minded. The horns protruding above the children’s doe-eyes are symbols from Japanese folklores portraying the repressed negativity in us. In this exhibition, a portion of her latest work is being shown for the first time in Hong Kong: Featuring a glow-in-the-dark paint that reveals drawings of skulls when lights are off, depicting an alternate reality to the pop culture that entertains yet numbs us at the same time.
After the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, Shimoda began to experiment with collage and resin in her paintings to explore themes of reality versus fantasy, hope versus despair, and life versus death. Deeply influenced by the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident, she incorporates Japanese writings such as “death,” “I want to die,” and “loss” in her paintings as an attempt to delve into human fragility and selfishness. The copy-n-paste technique inspired by Andy Warhol was used to erase the taboo of death and fade away the negativity through means of mass production.
As a renowned Japanese contemporary artist that has “conquered” the West after exhibiting numerous times in different cities of the United States, Shimoda commented that intolerance and hypocrisy in human beings seemed all the same to her, East and West alike. There is an “otherness” in each and every one of us, and we seldom confront it. Hence, a few years ago after a trip to Los Angeles, she introduced English words in her work that enables her to speak to a wider range of audiences.
The artist’s trips to the West also introduced her to street art (which she has incorporated into her later work) and artists, leading her to collaborate with brands such as “This is a Limited Edition” in London, as well as “Print All Over Me” (PAOM), which drops on 14th February.
Hikari Shimoda’s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong is on view at Over The Influence in Central until 16th March, 2019.