After two years of pilgrimage to practice Shingon Buddhism at Enryaku-ji, a Tendai monastery in Kyoto, Hideaki Kawashima returned to his artistic roots and studied under Yoshitomo Nara, an influence apparent in his amiable manga-inspired characters and their typically evacuated background. If Kawashima's short journey through Esoteric Buddhism cleared his consciousness to the essential spirit that drives his art-making, it was Nara who guided Kawashima back into the art world, where he began to use his enlightenment to pursue contemporary poetics.
Minimal in concept, Kawashima exploits his tools with the ambiguous and expansive language of his titles, helping the viewer unravel a mysterious narrative. The limited palette puts form and facial features in particular forward as the route for visual articulation. Neatly and evenly divided in two spaces divided between the contoured face and a golden vacuity, Antenna (Lot 1760) is humorously broadcasted through the two strands of hair that sinuously curve over the mutely static background, thus harmonizing two opposing expressions as whole. However, the bold, marble eyes and luscious, moist cherry lips grasp its narrative supremacy; face is void of structure, defying gravity and control as it willfully floats like a balloon, notwithstanding the title Grass (Lot 1759) that plants a grounded force.
In Idea (Lot 1687) and Nocturnal (Lot 1688), an oval face is implied by the elaborately intertwined hair. Crisp, graphic lines of his earlier works are diffused into a blur, giving shape and dimensionality to the face with imperceptible gradations. The large and deep pools of the midnight blue eyes ooze an ethereal presence in Idea in stark contrast with the white surrounding. In Nocturnal Kawashima invert his usual compositional dynamic; here the cobalt blue of the night is what drives the ethereal ambiance while the protagonist silently fumes her muted aggravation, clouding the humbly minute constellation, and her mysterious persona's aura reinforced by an elaborate golden classic frame. Consciously utilized to as if a shrine, it ultimately, reinforces the overwhelming spiritual power of the girl. The four uncanny yet graceful figures all float aimlessly within each canvas in comfort of their isolation, and in their narcissistic and self-seeking endeavor to dominate the canvas. Such narcissism is perhaps Kawashima's contemporary twist on the meditative Buddhist learning; obsession of one's self that ironically correlates with the ritualistic mantra that concentrates on emulating the inner realization.