• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2605

    Asian Contemporary Art (Day Sale)

    25 May 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 430


    Price Realised  


    (Born in 1967)
    signed and dated 'Hiroshi Kobayashi; 2004' in English (on reverse)
    acrylic on canvas
    97 x 132 cm. (38 1/4 x 52 in.)
    Painted in 2004

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    Our childhood and pre-teen memories and experiences are popular themes in contemporary Japanese art and are used by artists in a variety of mediums. Kobayashi's paintings of stuffed animals, integrate elements of Japanese art such as Ukiyo-e (woodcut-printing), photography and animation, which are characterized by layered pictorial space, dynamics of action by, sharp lines, the multiplicity of commercial printing and allegories. Inspired by these mediums, he developed his own unique style to depict his representational figures. Taking a digital photograph of a figure, he manipulates the image in order to make a draft of a virtual story. Then, with the aid of a PC, he reduces and adjusts the colors into chromatic shapes, similar to a geographical map. Using the draft, he paints the images by pouring glossy fluid acrylic paints onto a prepared canvas. The photographic reality and allegory is re-codified as a painting that reflects his own production. By pouring the color onto the canvas, the artist creates colorful stuffed animals, floating on a smooth, single-colored surface. They protrude this surface, retaining their volume not so much through perspective painting, but through thick layers of carefully applied acrylic paint, which gives them an almost three-dimensional character and builds a contrast to the surface, which can be seen as the empty space behind the embossed cast. At the same time, elements of a flat style, intrinsic to Japanese cartoon, remain. Kobayashi uses mostly primary colors such as shades of red and blue, which give the figures a naive simplicity that corresponds with what they stand for: carelessness of childhood. Arranged within the formal space of color, they engage in simple actions like looking, peeping and balancing. Floating like balloons that escape the hands of playing children, the fly away, never to return. Like in an illusion or a single moment of a dream, these floating figures are like toys abandoned and forgotten a long time ago. Only a sense of nostalgia remains.