Exhibition: Pain by Haroshi, at Stolen Space Gallery

'Skateboarder's Unity' by Haroshi

‘Skateboarder’s Unity’ by Haroshi

Did you ever wonder what happened to skateboards after they die? Tokyo based artist, Haroshi, has been resurrecting used decks for over a decade.

This self-taught artist uses the discarded remains of broken down skateboard decks to create beautiful wooden sculptures, adapting the DIY ethos of skate culture into creating works of art. With intricate mosaic patterns formed from stacked layers of coloured decks as his palate, these skateboards take on a new life as stunning art pieces in the form of skulls, figurative characters, fire hydrants, and anything else Haroshi might imagine.

For Haroshi’s first solo exhibition at StolenSpace, ‘Pain’ will reveal a new body of work which examines the effects of emotional pain, and how it can be a great motivating force in the creation of art. Haroshi, has been exploring this difficult concept in his new series of work by harnessing and repurposing painful experiences in the same way that he recycles disused objects as beautifully handcrafted sculptures. Using hundreds of disused decks in the process, each artwork is exquisitely imaginative, created with the highest level of ingenuity, impeccable craftsmanship and attention to detail, calling into question ‘what is pain?’and ‘why does it exist?’

When I was in London the other day I popped along to see Pain by Haroshi at Stolen Space Gallery. It’s only a small exhibition, but there were a couple of very striking pieces that made it absolutely worth visiting. My favourite piece was ‘Agony into Beauty’:

'Agony into Beauty' by Haroshi

‘Agony into Beauty’ by Haroshi

'Agony into Beauty' by Haroshi

‘Agony into Beauty’ by Haroshi

The entire wall of the main gallery room was taken up with this massive eagle:

Pain by Haroshi, at Stolen Space, London

Pain by Haroshi, at Stolen Space, London

Pain by Haroshi, at Stolen Space, London

The other room in the gallery was dotted with smaller pieces, such as these bizarre fingers, a broken leg, and a heart:

'Lost Finger #1, #2 & #3' by Haroshi

‘Lost Finger #1, #2 & #3’ by Haroshi

'Ordinary Life' by Haroshi

‘Ordinary Life’ by Haroshi

'Life with Pain' by Haroshi

‘Life with Pain’ by Haroshi

Haroshi is a self-taught artist, born in Japan in 1978. He has a passion for skating, and has dedicated his life to collecting broken skateboards and using them in his art. According to the information on display in the gallery, “Haroshi’s work has been compared to the ancient Japanese tradition of building wooden Buddhas, a process that involves conserving all materials in order to minimise the weight of the statue. 12th century Japanese master sculptor Unkei was known to place a crystal, called a Shin-gachi-rin (meaning ‘new moon circle’), in the position of the statue’s heart, representing its soul. Similarly, Haroshi incorporates this concept, often placing a metal object within the layered shell of his artwork. The object may be a discarded skateboard part from Haroshi’s collection, or an object of personal significance. Whatever it may be, Haroshi believes that these objects give a soul to the sculpture: a hidden, interior life that the artist sometimes reveals through x-ray images“.

I really like this work – it’s fun, quirky, and colourful, and certainly makes you stop and look. Unfortunately the exhibition has now finished, but hopefully Haroshi will come back to the UK again soon.

'Skate Bullet Smile' by Haroshi

‘Skate Bullet Smile’ by Haroshi

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