The reputation of artist Katsuhiko Hibino
is made of cardboard. He paints, draws, cuts and constructs from flattened
boxes. The ubiquitous brown color of cardboard seeps through his painting
and drawings. A large, 280 piece mid career retrospective exhibition of
Hibino's work is on display at the Meguro Museum of Art, Tokyo.
Although still, relatively young Katsuhiko Hibino has had a long career
in the spotlight of contemporary art. From early success in graphic art,
he has moved on to become a star of the art-world having his work exhibited
at the prestigious Venice Bienale. He was seen as a fresh force in graphic
arts by producing work that was constructed from layers of roughly cut
and painted cardboard.
These rough, almost childish constructions were unique in the polished
world of graphic design where glossy flat printable products were the
norm. A white dog, red shoes, an airplane and staircases are motifs used
repeatedly by Hibino since his early years of art and design in the 1980's.
They are signatures to his art but they also provide nostalgic elements
to his cardboard vignettes of life. Further enhancing this, the color
of cardboard, adds sepia toned warmth to his work.
Hibino's works are joyful and playful, in particular the large sculptural
forms. These rickety, awkward and flimsy structures are like sets from
a children's play. His almost full-sized Grand Piano sculpture has a humorous
appearance. On the cardboard piano stool is painted a tongue in cheek
invitation to 'please sit down'. This would result in crushing it and
crashing to the ground.
During the late eighties and early nineties Hibino's art success led him
to became a 'talento'. He hosted a TV talk show (and he designed the sets),
was featured in commercials, appeared in magazines and designed everything
from rally cars and motorbikes to nightclubs and theatre sets.
Throughout the bubble economy years, Hibino was a favorite artist of the
public and corporations. Hibino's works from the mid '90's are huge, over
3 meters square and well suited to corporate foyers. Many flattened cardboard
boxes are sewn together with ties of string to form these large works.
However, only a small surface area painted or drawn upon.
The cut out figures seem to float in this sea of orange brown. This entertaining
show concentrates on the bulk of his work produced in the last two decades
of the 20 Century. Hibino is a fluent draftsman and the free line of his
drawing flows into the cutting of cardboard in his constructions. The
exhibition displays Hibino's artistic talents, as well as, quirky humor
and unbridled energy.