Among the many artworks on display at Art Central 2018 in Hong Kong, one of the works that stood out was Japanese artist Hiroshi Mori’s If There Was Impossible Campbell’s Soup Cans…Nissin Demae Ramen, Sesame Oil—an Andy Warhol-inspired artwork Mori created specially for his debut at the annual contemporary art fair.
Known for combining Japanese anime and pop art with some of the most iconic religious portraits of the Renaissance era, Mori has also been experimenting with square paint tiles inspired by video games to further explore elements of Japanese animation and manga culture. The integration of new technology is key to Mori's work, and the reason why his style is ever-changing.
In light of his second solo exhibition—titled Laughing Quietly To Myself—in Hong Kong, we had a chat with the experimental artist about his unique approach to fine art:
Tell us a bit about yourself. What did you do before you became an artist?
Before stepping into the career of a professional artist, I tried various occupations like game creator, car painter and fine art teacher. These jobs helped me learn more about different aspects of cutting-edge technology and its application in art.
In 2011, I was accepted into the Tokyo University of the Arts and took a Master's degree in fine arts. My research theme was the combination of the latest technology with classical religious paintings. I graduated from the programme in 2013, then I started working as a professional artist.
What inspired your unique medium?
During the tsunami and earthquake in Fukushima in 2011, over 15,000 Japanese people died. I was deeply influenced by the event, and a friend suggested that I read the Bible. The Book of Job, that tells of the patience in suffering under God’s will, inspired me and led to my decision to combine religious iconography with new technology.
After my solo exhibition at Art Experience Gallery in Hong Kong in 2013, I joined the Los Angeles Art Show in 2015. It was the first time that I got in touch with pop art, which aroused my interest. American pop artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, to some extent, cast an influence on my works. My experience in Japanese culture helps me to integrate gaming, comics and anime with iconic pop art from the West.
Another combination that's interesting to me is the integration of Japanese anime characters with masterpieces from famous painters such as Claude Monet and Leonardo da Vinci, which are being shown in the current exhibition in Hong Kong.
Why is your exhibition called “Laughing Quietly To Myself”?
My life can only go on by mocking myself. If you are sensitive enough, it’s easy for you to see a foolish yet humorous side to yourself. This attitude is an important element for me to continue creating and to go on with my life.
What can we expect from your upcoming exhibition in Hong Kong?
I would like viewers to get up close and personal with my works. All the paintings are done with high quality techniques. Different materials such as pearl and silver in various colours were employed in the paintings.
Although some paintings are based on masterpieces by Da Vinci and Monet, they appear profoundly different when new materials and new technology are applied.
Laughing Quietly To Myself will run until May 26 at Art Experience Gallery, Room 2009, 9 Hoi Shing Road, Tsuen Wan, New Territories, Hong Kong. For more information, visit artexperiencegallery.com