The Meaning Behind the Battered Stuffed Toys | Hidehiko Iijima Interview


Hidehiko Iijima

The Whitestone Ginza New Gallery is holding a group exhibition entitled "Dimensions II" featuring the works of six gifted young artists, as a project to nurture the future of contemporary art. Its goal is to discover new talent and create opportunities for their presentation. And by exhibiting the works of several artists in the same space, it aims to bring new perspectives for both the viewers and the artists themselves.

For this exhibition, we conducted interviews with the six participating artists in order to reveal their inner worlds. We asked them the same set of questions to find out how they developed their current artistic expressions, and unravel the relationship between art and modern society as depicted in their artworks.

Hidehiko Iijima's Depiction of Human Frailty, Ludicrous Malice, and Pitiful Bluster

Close-up of Hidehiko Iijima "twist" from Group Exhibition of Gifted Artists: Dimensions II

1. What prompted you to pursue a career as an artist, and what continues to drive your passion for creating art?

ー I yearned to embody the allure of artists who craft captivating and beautiful creations, aspiring to follow in their footsteps.

2. What do you think are the characteristics that define your artworks?

ー I create distorted forms and manipulate the paints, often blending and obscuring colors, occasionally erasing portions and layering new ones. This iterative process is integral to shaping my artworks, imbuing them with the characteristic awkwardness that defines my style.

Hidehiko Iijima "horn" 2023, 72.7 × 60.6 cm, acrylic paint/pigment ink/gesso on wooden panel

3. Your artwork entitled "horn" is a key visual of the exhibition. What kind of work is it?

ー Besides incorporating stuffed toys into my art, I've recently used concrete motifs. This particular painting was created with this concept in mind. In the past, I occasionally added cracks purely as a form of artistic expression, but for this piece, I transformed them into horns, lending a more tangible quality. Are these horns growing organically or pierced into the head? By embracing a concrete aesthetic, I aim to encourage viewers to let their imaginations roam freely.

4. Are there any artists or artworks that influenced you? What do you like about them?

ー Tomoo Gokita. I like his use of slightly difficult concepts and the courage of forgoing the theme of his works, which he makes possible through his great painting skills.

Group Exhibition of Gifted Artists: Dimensions II

5. What does "art" mean to you?

ー Self-discovery.

6. What are your expectations from this group exhibition?

ー I want it to be seen by many people.

7. What are your plans for the future?

ー First and foremost, I desire to keep producing more artwork. Through the creation and exhibition of my pieces, I aspire to explore different parts of the world and, ideally, achieve recognition through prestigious awards. I am eager to witness the extent to which my own art can propel me forward.

Hidehiko Iijima "twist" 2023, 455 × 530 cm, acrylic paint/pigment ink/gesso on wooden panel

Crafted through trial and error, the unattractive figures depicted in Hidehiko Iijima's creations lay bare the ugliness, absurdity, and hollowness inherent in human nature. Simultaneously, they convey a sense of optimism, suggesting that recognizing these vulnerabilities can pave the way for embracing others with greater understanding and acceptance.

The Group Exhibition of Gifted Artists, "Dimensions II," will be on display until October 21, 2023. Additionally, you can explore the exhibition online at your convenience via the Whitestone Gallery Online Store.

View exhibition details »

Born in 1999, Hidehiko Iijima graduated from Aichi University of the Arts, Faculty of Arts, with a major in Design. Making his figure early, Iijima was selected at the competition “Hyaku-nin-ten”(means: ten of one hundred people). Then, he was awarded consecutively at “Independent Tokyo 2022” (Grand-Prix) and “WATOWA ART AWARD 2022”. His work was displayed not only at the group shows in various locations in Japan, but also at the art fairs in the Netherlands and Taiwan. In 2023, his first solo exhibition was held in Tokyo (Gallery Tagboat). ‘Shredded, and destroyed stuffed toys’ that Iijima represents symbolize the frailness of human nature. While harshness or ungainliness is the synonym for violence or maliciousness, it is the flip side of “sham courage”, a sad attribute of human beings. Iijima does not look away from this reversal point. Because he knows this is the smoothest whereabouts of his theme, ‘comprehension of others as a continuation of self-assertion’.

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