Jacob Hashimoto Talks About ‘The Eclipse’ and ‘Never Comes Tomorrow’
New York City artist Jacob Hashimoto is known for his large-scale installation pieces. Born in 1973 in Greeley, Colorado, Hashimoto draws on his Japanese heritage to create complex worlds from components such as paper kites, colorful disks and political stickers. His works are multi-layered and have references to a range of topics including cosmology, political protest, and even video games. Hashimoto’s work is often colorful and amorphous, can be happy or gloomy – and is usually made up of multiple components, expertly layered. It is always intricate and eloquent.
A wave of dark and light
One of Jacob Hashimoto’s most recent works is ‘The Eclipse’, a wave of black and white disks suspended from a ceiling – it resembles a tornado. Each disk is a hand-crafted paper and wood kite – and there are over 15,000 of them! ‘The Eclipse’ was conceived during the period leading up to the American elections and constructed after Donald Trump took his seat in 2016. The piece was first shown at the 57th Venice Biennale and later in the UAE in Dubai at the Leila Heller Gallery and currently resides in St Cornelius Chapel on Governors Island off the Manhattan coast.
A blood-red screen-print of the American flag is printed on the back of the black kites but is only visible in certain light. In an interview, Hashimoto said that this expressed that there is a storm coming to America and that this particular work symbolized the eclipse of three decades of progress in America. Hashimoto believes it is patriotic for citizens to talk about what they feel is happening in their country.
History and cosmology merge in an understated political statement
Installed near ‘The Eclipse’ on Governors Island, there is yet another one of Hashimoto’s works. The ‘Never Comes Tomorrow’ installation was created with steel, ABS, wood, LED lights and vinyl stickers. It consists of two large steel funnels. One is made up of a mix of colorful and transparent spheres, the other abstract shapes changing to rectangles in shades of green and blue. The funnels resemble vortexes and have hundreds of small wooden cubes emerging from the tails that meet in the center. The cubes house stickers, some made by Hashimoto and others collected at a Women’s Day protest against Trump’s inauguration attended by the artist. Some sport slogans like, ‘Not My President’ and ‘Refugees Are Welcome Here’.
‘Never Comes Tomorrow’ is installed in Liggett Arch, a deep passageway in a former infantry housing space. The design clearly references Hashimoto’s deep interest in both history and cosmology. Hashimoto disclosed that he had some concerns about the political stickers on the piece but the piece was installed at such a height, the stickers are not really visible to the public. The artist considers ‘Never Comes Tomorrow’ to be a self-portrait. He built it while he was working with the Natural History Museum in New York in collaboration with an astrophysicist on a range of paintings of exoplanets. This was part of what influenced Hashimoto in creating the piece. He was also inspired by Tiffany lamps – something that featured in Hashimoto’s opinion on cultural appropriation.
Whose culture is it anyway?
Pablo Picasso said, ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal’. Cultural appropriation has been a contentious topic for decades, and yet it has featured in art for centuries – ust look at how similar Greek and Egyptian sculptures are. Jacob Hashimoto acknowledges that the history of art is filled with cultural appropriation and admits that he is also guilty of this. He is interested in how Tiffany assimilated an Asian decorative language with classic American art objects. And Tiffany was only one of many examples of cultural appropriation in the arts. Matisse was also a cultural appropriator. He rendered odalisque fantasies as paintings of Middle East harems. So was Claude Monet who painted his wife dressed up in a traditional Japanese kimono. In creating ‘Never Comes Tomorrow’, Hashimoto intentionally stole from Tiffany by building giant black holes that resemble Tiffany lamps.
Dark titles for works light as air
Jacob Hashimoto’s work is usually approached by art critics as having tranquil qualities. His Japanese heritage is often connected with his art and discussions around the meditative qualities of the pieces occur. According to Hashimoto, leaving the work to speak for itself will encourage this narrative, but believes it’s possible to push people into stepping back and questioning the meaning of the work through a simple technique. This method involves pairing off ethereal and light works of art with deep, heavy and thought-provoking titles. Whether it is psychosexual, long and complex, or simply crazy, the juxtaposition of awarding a light work with a dark title instills curiosity in viewers and forces them to rethink their initial assumptions about the meaning behind the piece.
Vibrant and decorative, or dark and gloomy – it’s all goodColor, patterns, or both are richly featured throughout Jacob Hashimoto’s work. Works like ‘The Eclipse’ are not colorful and gives a more somber impression than works like ‘Light, Like Static Vanished into Shadows’ a work which is particularly vibrant and colorful. Crafted with acrylic, Dacron, bamboo, paper and wood, it features explosive color and repeated patterns. The viewer’s eyes are drawn for one line to the next – some are left feeling cheerful, others merely frantic. The question is whether the artist considers how color will affect the overall mood of the work as he is constructing the piece.
Color can be therapeutic
Hashimoto asserts that he is not a colorist as such, and does not use any procedure to attempt to create a mood. At the start of his journey as an artist he used color as a device to get people to notice his work – he hoped that this would compel them to decipher the language his work speaks. Hashimoto now approaches color intuitively and often attempts to find awkward color situations. He also believes that making colorful and powerful art can create optimism positive energy. This not only results in a powerful end product but is also therapeutic for the artist.