Hidenori Ishii’s paintings are rooted in his formal education in Environmental Science and his love of Dutch Renaissance painting. A strange marriage but one that informed the other; his interest in green technology a rational response to the world around him, his love of Vermeer a relationship he developed while studying in the US.
It was Ishii’s love of Dutch painting that led him to quit his studies and enrol in art college. Since he took up a brush he has been exploring the possibilities of integrating psychological and environmental systems into self-contained worlds, the paintings a juxtaposition of artificial and natural patterns; always transforming, moving, energetic, forever destroying and rebuilding. His latest work explores the destruction of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in 2011, a traumatic event for many in Japan and of particular relevance to Ishii who spent his childhood playing in that area.
The paintings are layered, beginning with screen captures taken from a live feed of the plant over which he screenprinted images of his childhood and more recent trips to the plant with his friends using a green synthetic resin called Kuricoat – sprayed on the ground at the plant to keep the radiation from becoming airborne – bringing both the real and the imaginary onto a single plane:
I got my friends to drive me, all the abandoned houses and buildings were shocking. In a documentary, there is a little girl who said she could not go outside because it was dangerous. But the flowers and trees were blooming. It’s ironic that this plant was actually supposed to be a ‘green’ reactor and it is where we have this tragedy.
Like many artists who have made work in response to the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima Ishii looks to the future in hope, his paintings an effort to see the light beyond the darkness, to make the destruction beautiful by imbuing it with human vulnerability, fragility and time passing. As he said about his paintings:
I didn’t want to make these horrible images, I wanted to suggest possibilities. I hope to bring something alive out of it. I believe painting is where actuality and possibility meet with one’s intention. As a landfill utilizes the progresses of nature of a long period of time, I’m interested in visual and symbolic dialogue of between man’s intention and nature’s inevitabilities. Using combination of patterns both from nature and man-made, my paintings suggest transformations, erosions and constructions of improbable environments. Through its evident execution, my work creates a space where submerged human or natural potentials are rendered visible over time.