06.16.2021 (Wed.) ― 09.06.2021 (Mon.)
- Mon. - Sun.
11:00 AM – 6:00 PM (PDT)
JAPAN HOUSE Gallery, Level 2
Over the last year, as the world has faced an unprecedented situation, people have been missing close contact with each other and have been yearning to reconnect with their families, friends and communities. In his site-specific installation at JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles, Japanese artist Kengo Kito (b.1977) uses hula hoops to explore ideas of connection and re-connection. By opening up the hoops and linking them to each other end-to-end, he creates one expansive, interconnected whole that fills the space with color, line and light. His first hula hoops exhibition in the United States, the colorful structure serves as a metaphor for the interconnectedness of all humanity, a theme that resonates deeply today. As Japan hosts the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the installation also aligns with one of its core concepts: Unity in Diversity.
Kengo Kito is one of Japan’s most innovative contemporary artists, repurposing everyday objects and connecting modern materials with ideas rooted in traditional Japanese philosophy, culture and art. Using hula hoops allows Kito to explore the close relationship between the circle, the line and space in his work. When a hula hoop is formed, “sen ga en ni naru” (a line becomes a circle), and when a hoop is reopened, “en ga sen ni naru” (the circle becomes a line). By connecting several hoops end-to-end, he creates long lines that in turn become new, larger circles that all intersect with each other – a colorful, uplifting metaphor for our interconnectedness. Also important in the interaction of these lines and circles with each other and the surrounding space of the gallery. Each plastic hoop contains space and frames space, and when they are all connected, they fill the gallery space. Yet, the room remains full of space, or empty, in a sense.
"In my work I wanted to create a visual expression of the idea that our world is made up of 'connections'"
– Kengo Kito
In traditional Zen Buddhist philosophy and art, the circle, line and space have long been concepts used to question and explore reality and our place in it. In Zen Buddhism, the circle is a form that is both perfectly whole and empty, inviting questions about fullness, the void and the nature of reality, while a straight line can symbolize directness and a spiritual path forward. Space and the void are also often the focus of Zen contemplation. The Japanese word kū – often translated into English as “emptiness” – is used in Zen Buddhism to describe a dynamic and constantly evolving state – not so much empty as filled with untapped potential.
In RECONNECTING, Kito’s repurposed plastic hula hoops serve as a sort of mitate, a Japanese poetic and visual device in which a modern image substitutes for a classical motif – here a hula-hoop structure for Zen circles, lines and space. The work is both very much of our current moment, but also has roots that lie deep in traditional Japanese culture. In his dynamic work of contemporary art, Kengo Kito forms connections that stretch beyond the physical and delve deeply into the realms of philosophy and emotion. We hope that the exhibition’s playfulness and messages of connection and potential will lift the spirits of all our visitors.
The total number of hoops used in the main gallery is 2021, to mark the year of the exhibition.
Explore Two Sections
The section in the sub-gallery features smaller hula hoop installations that preview the larger installation in the main gallery. The section includes a central information island with text and videos that introduce Kengo Kito’s work and artistic motivations and connect his work with traditional Japanese art and philosophical concepts.
The primary part of the exhibition is the large installation of hula hoops in the main gallery. This installation is an immersive experience for visitors, allowing them to walk through a space transformed by Kito’s hula hoop structure and be immersed in this colorful, uplifting space.
About Kengo Kito
Kengo Kito (b. 1977, Japan) received a BFA in oil painting at Nagoya University of Fine Arts and Music in 2001. He completed his Postgraduate Studies at Kyoto City University of Fine Arts and Music in 2003. In 2009, he was a resident artist at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University and from 2010-12, he lived and worked in Berlin, Germany. Currently, in addition to his work as an artist, he is associate professor at Kyoto University of Art and Design.
Kito's primary materials are hula-hoops, laces, chains, mirrors, and other objects from daily life, which he connects and arranges to create his work. He plays with these ordinary ready-made materials to make two- and three-dimensional sculptures, installations, and videos. Kito draws inspiration for his work from the ephemeral quality of dreams and the structures and systems he finds in biology and nature.
Kito received the Encouragement Prize from Kyoto City University of Fine Arts and Music in 2003. He was also awarded the Gotoh Foundation Scholarship in 2008-2009, and Japan Agency for Cultural Affairs Scholarship in 2010.
Selected Solo Exhibitions
Regular solo exhibitions with Kenji Taki Galleries in Tokyo and Nagoya from first show Cosmic Dust (2004) through the present, Quasar, Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo (2004), PUBLIC ’SPACE’ PROJECT, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2007), Cosmic Elements, The Esplanade, Singapore (2008), Flimsy Royal, Humanities Gallery, Long Island University (2009), Sagittarius, αm Gallery, Tokyo (2010), KENGO KITO, Seibu Shibuya, Tokyo (2016), KENGO KITO Interstellar, Kyoto University of Art and Design Galerie Aube, Kyoto (2016).
Selected Group Exhibitions
Accretion Disk at Mori Yu Gallery, Kyoto (2002), On Flowering Images; Contemporary Japanese Photography, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo (2004), VOCA 2006 - The Vision of Contemporary Art, Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo (2006), Food and Contemporary Art part 2, BankART 1929 Yokohama in Kanagawa (2006), Roppongi Crossing , Mori Museum in Tokyo (2007), Twenty, Dazed and Confused, London (2008), Barock Plastik, I-MYU Projects, London (2009), Gallery Group Show at Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo (2010), Mono No Aware. Beauty of Things. Japanese Contemporary Art, The State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia (2014), MULTIPLE STAR I, Hara Museum ARC Gallery A, Gunma, Japan (2017)
Artist Quote about Working with Hula Hoops
“For me, I’m not trying to configure space; rather, I have a strong desire to fill and dominate. With this work my goal was to see how much space I could stuff with lines. I aimed to ‘fill with coarseness and finesse.’ The space was saturated with hula-hoops, but their interior was a void that expresses a contradictory sense.” - Kengo Kito
Exhibition Related Programs
Presented by JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles
Special thanks to Miwako Tezuka, PhD, Co-director, PoNJA-GenKon (Post-1945 Japanese Art Discussion Group) Associate Director, Reversible Destiny Foundation