Hiroshi Kobayashi's paintings of stuffed animals integrate elements of Japanese ukiyo-e woodcut printing, photography and animation, weaving together shared characteristics of layered pictorial spaces, dynamics action, and allegorical meanings. A snapshot of an imagined fairytale is captured and digitally reduced into shapes and outlines like those on a topographical map. Layers of fluid acrylic paint then fill and emboss the prepared surface with sinuous contours and gentle planar elevations that lends a three-dimensionality to the canvas. At the same time, it is a reminder of the instant when the paint stagnates and dries. The artist creates an animated vision of floating figures while retaining flatness in the composition, a quality intrinsic to Japanese prints and cartoons.
The monochromatic blue composition of Reverse Burst (Lot 1729) is reminiscent of an old discoloured photograph and immediately evokes a sense of nostalgia. The interaction among the cartoon characters suggests the naivety and simplicity of childhood friendships. With a broader range in his colour palette and greater focal clarity, Crossing the Continent (Lot 1730) features greater details and a deeper perspective within the ambiguous light-filled environment that seem to reside in our memories. Defying time and gravity, the stream of animals sashay across the composition, floating like balloons that escape the hands of playing children, never to return. The seemingly confrontational image of Poker Face (Lot 1728) perhaps alludes to the mischief and manipulation that is inherent in all of us, and playfully addresses the unavoidable loss of innocence. Such games in our ephemeral past are now transcribed into permanence, and these toys serve as a kind reminder of the blissful years in our youth that is held at the back of our memories.