Hiroshi Kobayashi's paintings of stuffed animals integrate elements of Japanese ukiyo-e (woodcut printing), photography and animation, characterized by the layered pictorial space, dynamics of action, sharp lines and allegorical meaning. Inspired by these mediums the artists takes a digital photograph of a figure, and in an elaborate process manipulates the image to a draft a virtual story. With the aid of a computer, he reduces his subject into shapes and outlines reminiscent of a topographical map. Pouring fluid acrylic paints within these lines onto a prepared canvas, the artist creates an animated vision of floating figures on a smooth surface. Similar to an illusion or a single moment of a dream, these floating toys represent the image of our youth held at the back of our memories, serving as kind reminders of the blissful years of our youth.
The monochromatic blue palette of Kobayashi's Step into the Mist (Lot 1541) reminds us of an old discolored black and white photograph whose aged impression instantly ignites a sense of nostalgia and revives childhood memories. Defying gravity, the stream of animals sashay across our field of vision, moving at his or her own accord in a time warped space. Given the large scale of this work, the viewer feels as though he or she is standing in the very room, a silent observer of the fantastical scene. The multiple sources of lighting create a room of seemingly overlapped time frames of various hours of the day while the inconsistent shadows and depth created by the dark puddles of paint further facilitate Kobayashi's rendition of a three dimensional space. Floating like balloons that escape the hands of playing children, the soft toys fly away, never to return in Blind Race 2 (Lot 1542). Kobayashi creates an elegant rendition of a child's game of racing toys, rendering to be engaged to race, leaping and heading in various directions. The once ephemeral flashback of such games has now been transcribed into permanence, freezing time yet simultaneously luring us into the past.