Self-taught sculpture artist Haroshi is using the discarded leftovers of broken skateboards to create striking wooden creations.
The 35-year-old Tokyo resident, who prefers to not use his full name, began skating at age 15 in Kanagawa, amassing a growing stack of broken decks and parts. Ten years later, his collection overflowing, a friend suggested he find a way to do something with them. Cutting into one of the decks with a saw, he noticed an interesting pattern of stripes from its laminated layers of wood, and got to work on his first creation, a wooden bangle-style bracelet.
Since then, Haroshi’s sculptures have used the imagery of skateboard culture as inspiration for many of his pieces, utilizing multi-colored skateboard ply in both stacked layers and mosaic patterns. The output ranges from skateboarding cats to Airwalk sneakers. And, of course, skulls and demons.
“I believe there have been over 40,” Haroshi responds when asked how many pieces he’s made. “My process is very time consuming. Essentially, I assemble the decks into stacks, glue them together and cut into pieces. I use a sander, chisels and Japanese carving instruments with ultra-fine blades. Sometimes I apply different types of laminate to the wood to give them different finishes (depending on the subject).” And in some of his new pieces, he’s begun incorporating clear epoxy resin.
“I’ve been creating sculptures with skateboards for 10 years but it was only a few years ago when I finally realized that what I’d been doing was considered art,” he says.
But despite having no formal training (“Art was very far removed from my life and I never studied it”), Haroshi’s artistic talent is highly evident. Over the last few years, his work has been shown in galleries from Tokyo to London to New York, including his new show “Virtual Reality” opening this weekend at Manhattan’s Jonathan LeVine Gallery. The show, named for the classic 1993 Rodney Mullen skate video, features all new pieces.Haroshi says his technique mirrors that of Japan’s carved Buddha statues — including embedding an object inside the statue. In the case of the Buddhas, they traditionally use a crystal ball; Haroshi instead places a broken skateboard part chosen from his collection, saying that it, like the crystal balls, give his creations a soul, and help him express his Japanese spirit.
As his public exposure has grown, Haroshi’s art has been bought by both avid collectors and first-time buyers, and he’s now started making multiples of some of his pieces. And as for what’s next after his show completes on Feburary 9th?
“I’ll also have 2 pieces in a group exhibition at Halles Saint Pierre Museum in Paris this month and after that I’ll be creating a trophy for a Nike SB competition in Mexico.”
(h/t This Is Colossal)
All photos by Jonathan LeVine Gallery except where noted.
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Broken Skateboards Become Stunning Wooden Sculptures