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CULTURE
Virtual Reality
Haroshi returns with playfully macabre skateboard sculptures
by James Thorne
on 14 January 2013
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Arranged horizontally or in a dizzying cubistic patchwork, Haroshi's laminated skateboard sculptures have rightfully earned the self-taught artist plenty of hype across both the art and skate communities. His latest exhibition, "Virtual Reality," magnifies his relentless penchant for cross-pollinating passions with a new crop of colorful works which fully reveal his distinct hybrid aesthetic.

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Known for shaping skate-inspired objects out of colorful used decks, Tokyo-based Haroshi both invents and reinvents figures emblematic of street culture, which ironically often become icons in their own right. "Almost everything I do is connected with skate culture," he says. "I'm influenced simply by what I love, sometimes this includes imagery that holds nostalgia from my childhood."

The upshot—perfectly polished, physical tropes that capture the spirit of the sport—is seemingly easily achieved by Haroshi. "Essentially, I assemble the decks into stacks, glue them together and cut into pieces," Haroshi tells us. "As far as tools, I use a sander, chisels and Japanese carving instruments with ultra-fine blades." The humble explanation of his approach is arguably the words of a man who has ultimately refined his craft: 2013 celebrates his decade-strong success in creating remarkable skateboard sculptures.

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Almost all of the pieces in his oeuvre are biological in some way, aligning the skateboard components with anatomical figures. "Humans die, skateboards break—skulls and bones are the remains of human beings that get left behind just like broken skateboards," explains Haroshi. The presence of the injured rats, a smiley face made of wooden bullets and a severed leg drive this point home.

Even semantically, Haroshi sees a connection between human anatomy and the skateboard. "With the skull piece, I created teeth from rubber skateboard wheel," he says. "I thought of this idea because, as skaters, we use the term 'wheel bite' when too much weight or pressure causes the wheel to bump into the deck."

"Virtual Reality" will run through 9 February 2013 at NYC's Jonathan Levine Gallery. Also worth a look are the neon works of Aakash Nihalani, which are showing in the adjacent space of the gallery.

Images courtesy of the Jonathan Levine Gallery

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