Okayama-based artist Hiroka Yamashita joins BLUM
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Okayama-based artist Hiroka Yamashita joins BLUM
Hiroka Yamashita,《神楽》KAGURA, 2023, Photo: Hannah Mj°lsnes.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- BLUM announced the representation of Okayama-based artist Hiroka Yamashita on the occasion of her first solo exhibition with the gallery, こをろこをろ koworo-koworo. This presentation also marks the artist’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles. Yamashita will be represented by BLUM in collaboration with Taka Ishii Gallery and Kiang Malingue.

Yamashita’s childhood home of Fukusaki, Hyogo is in a satoyama zone, situated squarely within the transitional space between mountain and flatland. Her paintings, which often take this familiar landscape as a point of inspiration, also inhabit similarly abutting liminal spaces—between the otherworldly forces of myth and everyday reality or abstraction and figuration. Placing ghostly figures in serene landscapes or holding a tight focus on a plant such that it becomes nearly unrecognizable, the artist examines the harmonious contrasts inherent to animism—the divine within the everyday—through her subject matter and painting style.

Constructing some of her painting series from the narratives of myth or folklore, Yamashita unifies her works with the concern for a form of the sublime that can be accessed through wilderness. With figures presenting as lightly shaded apparitions or flora that seem to melt or feather out into abstractions, the artist indicates a spiritual presence in all she witnesses. Having studied her local archives and the cultural traditions of her country, she invokes through paint the indications of all she perceives—seeing beyond that which is readily apparent to acknowledge the spiritual.

In examination of another interstitial space, Yamashita implements elements from both figuration and abstraction within her painting style. Instinctually applying oil paint to linen, the artist works and reworks her compositions to add instances of surreal characters to her abstracted landscapes and convey visions of the supernatural within the natural. With the painter’s gaze drawn either all the way in or far removed from her subject matter, Yamashita’s depicted scenes often take time for the viewer to register. One first appreciates the artist’s expressive markings then comes to comprehend the individual role of each stroke in comprising the whole of the work’s impactful likeness.

With brushstrokes of soft-hued pigment that seems to pool or fade into glistening clouds contrasted by opaque segments of darkness, Yamashita’s palette also emphasizes the various forms of contrast within each work. The mood of each painting vacillates between sentiments of bright elation and deep contemplation—depending on the artist’s usage of color density, light, and shadow—ultimately arriving at yet another moment that holds the tension provided by both polarities. Yamashita’s paintings are imbued with both the levity of possibility and the gravity of what is known.

Hiroka Yamashita (b. 1991, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan) received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York, NY and MFA from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. She currently lives and works in Okayama, Japan. Recent solo exhibitions include project N 84, Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (2021). Her work has been shown in group exhibitions including YES YOU CAN: The Strength of Life through Art, WHAT Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2022).

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