From the Archives – Jacob Hashimoto: The Other Sun

Today from our archives we bring you Margaret Zuckerman‘s review of Jacob Hashimoto‘s 2012 exhibition at Ronchini Gallery in London. Hashimoto has a new exhibition opening in February at Martha Otero Gallery in Los Angeles, hopefully as “buoyant, ethereal, and celebratory” as the work reviewed here. This article was originally published on July 19, 2012.

Jacob Hashimoto. Installation view of Paper Paradise at Ronchini Gallery, London. Courtesy of Michele Roberto Sereni and Ronchini Gallery.

American-born Jacob Hashimoto’s eye-catching exhibition, The Other Sun, at London’s Ronchini Gallery in Mayfair certainly brings to mind planetary brilliance in color and splendor. Hashimoto uses traditional kite-making materials and techniques to create singular, modular units collectively arranged into numinous, monumental installations and smaller, woven, three-dimensional wall pieces. Hanging by threads, the thousands of multicolored translucent kites are hand-made with rice paper and bamboo, each tiny kite delightfully constructed with exacting care. Elegant white, solid gold, or patterned, the cascading assemblage of kites moves like a flowing river of shimmering color, rolling through the space with extraordinary buoyancy and energy. It’s difficult for the eye to focus on an individual kite without getting lost in the whole, all-encompassing space. Some of the more decorated kites are like tiny paintings; each “superflat” composition floats above or below its surrounding neighbour, intrinsically incorporated into the design like the patterned scales of a fish.

At the entrance to the gallery, Hashimoto’s large-scale installation flows into motion with a subtle, meditative rhythm as I open the glass door and pass underneath. It conveys a sense of wonder and playfulness as the texture, lighting, and angle of the work shifts and changes while traveling through the speckled environment. While meandering beneath, the bright, fluttering work reveals itself to be an illuminated, celestial landscape borrowed from traditional Japanese painting or Manga animation—each viewer becoming a figure suspended in a handcrafted paper paradise. The temptation to reach out and touch is too much for most, and many forfeit at least to blow a small breath of wind, causing a delightful tremble to ribbon through the work.

Ronchini Gallery exterior. Photo Courtesy of Michele Roberto Sereni and Ronchini Gallery.

The artist’s smaller works, hanging like wall paintings near the back of the space, are more like high-relief installations with tea saucer-sized kites strung to each other, interwoven tightly and tied to wooden rods driven into the walls. Each kite stands at attention from the taught, pulled strings, and vibrates and dances with any change in the wind (or the fanciful breath of the playful admirers). Many seem like cartoonish landscapes, each kite a bulb of a swirling cloud or wave traveling along the surface of a sapphire-blue ocean. Among the organic and ovular shapes, another more subtle work stands out in its geometric, dynamic lines, like an ice-colored, slender vertical waterfall of translucent paper bow ties, sprinkled with a smattering of colored confetti.

On the Nature of Heroes, 2012; 122 x 122 x 20 cm; bamboo, paper, dacron, acrylic. Photo courtesy of Ronchini Gallery.

Incorporating craft, design, sculpture, installation, and painterly abstraction, Hashimoto’s collective fluttering installations are buoyant, ethereal, and celebratory—somehow traditional and modern at the same time. It is refreshing to say the least to attend an exhibition whose primary concern is with experiencing beauty. Hashimoto’s installation seemingly pours out into the street through the gallery’s windows to delight passersby and brighten the gray summer days of London.