Paradise and Regret, 2021 Screen prints, Bamboo, Acrylic, Wood, and Dacron 58 x 47 x 8 in
Jacob Hashimoto (b. 1973) is an abstract artist who creates three-dimensional works composed of hundreds of small, paper and bamboo, kite-like elements.
Hashimoto grew up in Walla Walla, Washington where his father taught writing at Whitman College. His mother studied art in college and painted part-time. She kept a small art studio in their home.
Hashimoto’s parents encouraged his studies, hoping that he would get accepted into a top school and work in academia. Besides playing around in his mother’s studio, art wasn’t a big focus of Hashimoto’s life growing up. When it came time for him to consider college, Hashimoto reflected on the fact that he liked working with his hands (he had notions of being a carpenter growing up) and enjoyed the creative expression offered in art. He decided to attend art school at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Like many art students, Hashimoto struggled to find his voice during his first years in school. A defining moment for him was a conversation with his father during his second year. Hashimoto’s father first advised him to keep showing up to the studio, even when he didn’t feel inspired (a version of advice he gave to students who had writers block). That way, when the mind was ready to create, the body was trained, active and ready to work. The second piece of advice was to pick up a hobby – like making model planes or flying kites – to give his mind a break from the pressure of creating.
Hashimoto decided to take up kiting. But not only did he want to fly kites, he wanted to make them. As he started making kites, experimenting with different materials and techniques, he got the notion of integrating his kite making into his art practice. Hashimoto started making kite-inspired art during his final year of college, and the theme has since become a hallmark of his work.
Our own restless natures, which want, but cannot have, 2016
Wood, acrylic, bamboo, paper and Dacron
66 x 60 x 8.5 in
Hashimoto’s artwork is comprised of hundreds of paper kite-like elements forming a three-dimensional collage with various patterns and color combinations. The kite-elements are stretched taught between short dowels (wooden cylindrical rods) that project from wall-mounted brackets. The result is a densely layered visual with various imagery evoking scenes from natural landscapes, digital landscapes (think Minecraft), board games, scrolling video games, and more.
Hashimoto draws inspiration from a range of topics, including art history, contemporary events, and mismatched narratives. One of the ways the Hashimoto illustrates these mismatched narratives is through his use of titles.
“People used to approach my work in a really predictable way. As critics started writing about it, there was a lot of discussion of the meditative quality of it, the zen-like characteristics, framing the work with all these stereotypical Japanese connotations. I realized that the more you let the work sit by itself, the more you allow people to take on this narrative. But if you take something that’s a minimal, zen piece and you put a psychosexual, crazy title on it, some sort of narrative title that’s long and complicated, it makes people step back and ask questions about the meaning of the work. It makes people think about their relationship with the narrative and the object in front of them, and the artist.”
Jacob Hashimoto explains one of his series: