Enter a Kaleidoscopic Dystopia Rendered in Ink and Charcoal
Inside Japanese artist Hiroki Tsukuda's kaleidoscopic visions of the future.
Underworld, 2015. All images courtesy of the artist and Petzel
Worlds merge and perspectives collide in the intricate, layered drawings of Hiroki Tsukuda. The Japanese artist’s US debut, at Petzel in New York, invites gallerygoers to Enter the O by way of ten works on paper and three mixed-media installations. The monochromatic drawings, rendered in ink and charcoal, fuse mechanical and architectural elements in a haunting, futuristic tangle of splintering viewpoints. O is for “outer worlds,” perhaps, which Tsukuda is looking to conjure in his dense, dynamic compositions.
Tsukuda reins in the chaos into ordered, symmetrical arrangements, which makes these artificial worlds all the more alienating—it’s hard to know, precisely, where to enter. There seems to be no room inside the tangle, too many dead ends and no firm ground to walk on. In one of the untitled installations, set in the middle of the gallery’s largest room, a crowded gathering of potted plants, slabs of wood, and concrete blocks is equally impenetrable.
The central tower in the trapezoid drawing Stone Made Padlock might provide an opportunity to unlock the mystery; in Tsukuda’s inverted universe, where light is dark and dark is light, it reads as a giant keyhole. “I used an image of a TV tower in Düsseldorf after noticing it looked like a keyhole once the image was inverted into its negative,” the artist tells The Creators Project. “Düsseldorf residents most likely only see the TV tower in my image but from my perspective, it looked quite different. In this way, I take great interest, and ultimately find meaning, in an object’s form compared to its details or whereabouts.”
Tsukuda views his process as collage, collecting materials from a wide variety of sources. “I make a lot of drawings, calligraphies, etc.; take photos with my iPhone wherever I go; and collect images from the internet on a regular basis.”
Born in 1978, the artist spent his youth just out of reach of the urban densities he depicts, growing up on Shikoku, the smallest and least populated of the four islands of Japan. Childhood fantasies of metropolitan life merge with current realities, as the bold architecture and graphic qualities of Japan’s capital city—his current home—work their way into the artist’s imaginings. In two smaller square ink drawings, fragmented animal carcasses add to the dystopic unease.
With his enigmatic, sci-fi panoramas, Tsukuda fully intends to raise questions and invoke strong feelings: “The concept for this work comes out of the idea of interchanging various objects with one another and exploring that interaction. Whether it’s a sense of discomfort or incongruity, or feelings of the divine or supernatural, I’m interested in pursuing the sensations born from these interrelationships.”
Enter the O is on view at Petzel until February 20, 2016.