Higashionna finds influence for his art in the interior design of post-modern Japan. At times girlish, uncanny, and tacky, his work explores a particular aesthetic known as “fanshii” which became popular in Japan in the 1970’s during a time of prosperity and deep admiration for Western culture. Much of Higashionna’s work to date has satirized fanshii and the tenuous line between luxury and taste. With this new exhibition, Higashionna starts from a position of doubt in fanshii, questioning through materials and an immersive environment whether the nature of our surroundings is actually a form of suppression.
A wall installation of striped black tape provides entry into the exhibition, a vibrating motif referencing Op art that repeats itself on the second floor of the townhouse gallery. Through the stripes, Higashionna divides interior from exterior space, and suggests objects that do the same such as fences, gates, and window lattices. The artist frequently renders familiar items like these into surprising new forms, as shown in his playful assemblage of hand and table mirrors on the second floor, or in his installation wrapped with wood-patterned wallpaper on the third floor. However familiar Higashionna’s tools may be, his application of them distorts visual perception. Regarding his own process, Higashionna writes, “my attempt is to catch a glimpse of freedom and to spin the daydream of that, fluctuating the system.”
In 2001, Higashionna began a series of “Light Works” in which he transformed simple, circular, fluorescent bulbs into monstrous and beautiful constructions representative of European living-room chandeliers. Here, the artist puts forth several more of these arresting light works –– some hanging from the ceiling with exposed electrical wires and others freestanding. Between these lights, an array of spray-painted and patterned canvases, and an oversized spinning piece of candy crafted out of mirror film, an aggregate effect of let’s get dizzy emerges. Higashionna calls for an altered state of mind, and then an awakening, amidst the paradox of utilitarian simplicity and trance-infused opulence.