The eye of the collector by Jean-luc Ferrand

Hirotoshi Itoh, "Laughing stone", stone, resin and metal sculpture

Thursday 15 June 2017, by Barbara Cogollos

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

HIROTOSHI ITOH is a Japanese sculptor. Born in 1958 in a family of stonemasons, he studied art at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts, where he attended the metal sculpture course and graduated in 1982.
Mixing family tradition with his studies, he built his own idea of ​​sculpture. He collects river stones and studies them to identify the idea suggested by their form: in fact, the respect and the use of the natural characteristics of materials are very important in Japanese traditional culture and art.

Thanks to his imagination, these simple stones acquire new forms and meanings. The hard and frozen mineral matter collected in the river is combined with unusual materials (very often metal and resin). It becomes then soft and lively, and defies common sense and tactile perception. The artist adds a softly surrealist spirit that recalls, to some extent, the creations of Magritte or Dalì.

On the water-polished stones of the Azusa, the river that runs through the neighborhood where he lives in the town of Matsumoto, ITOH adds zip, can opener, shoelaces, clips, which reveal an unexpected interior, which creates the illusion of an inner, hidden part, and gives a fourth dimension, the depth, to these stones. Sometimes with a simple polishing job, it gives an unexpected appearance when it sticks a knife or two sticks thus creating a sushi or a spread.

«Each block of stone has a statue inside itself and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it», said Michelangelo. The situation here is different: not only is the stone itself a sculpture, but HIROTOSHI ITOH reveals what it contains by creating an imaginary opening on its surface, thus opening a new dimension that was hitherto invisible.

He says: « A smile on the beholder’s face is the main motivation for my work». The artist achieves his goal: the illusion is particularly happy and there is indeed an ironic side that makes us smile. The irony is visible in all the works of HIROTOSHI ITOH and it is even more evident in the series of «Laughing stones» to which our work belongs.

Major solo exhibitions: 2015 Gallery Kan, Nagano; 2014 Crossy, Ebisu Miztsukoshi, Tokyo; 2013 Sibuya Seibu, Tokyo; 2011 Pleasure of Paradox ’11, KEIKO Gallery, Boston (’08); 2009 Marble and Stone Sculpture, Gallery East, Australia; 2006 Laughing Stone, Asahi Museum, Nagano. Major group exhibitions: 2014 Amakusalone, Kumamoto; 2013 Art Fair Tokyo, Tokyo; 2012 JAPANSK GRAFIK, Sweeden; 2012 MIASA EXHIBIT, Mendocino, CA (’08, ’10); 2009 Perfect Fit—Shoes Tell Stories, Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton MA; 2009 SOFA New York (’08, ’07); 2008 SOFA Chicago (’07, ’06); 2007 Japan Month in Houston: Contemporary Japanese Arts and Crafts; Prix: 2002 The Fifth Trick Art Competition; 2000 The Fourth Trick Art Competition; 1997 The Third Trick Art Competition; 1989 Atelier Nouveau Competition: 1987 Atelier Nouveau Competition. Public collections: Matsumoto City Library, Nagano; Shiroyama Park, Matsumoto, Nagano; Saint Paul Church, Karuizawa, Nagano; Hofukuji, Shigamura, Nagano: Love and the People’s Path, Nerima, Tokyo; Chihiro Museum, Azumino, Nagano; Nakano City Ippongi Park, Nagano.

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