Streets, Sports and Seeing Anew: An Interview with Hiroya Kurata

Hiroya Kurata is a painter who began his professional practice attached to the street. Not physically, but in principle. Kurata found early recognition for his works in and amongst the street art/interventionist art community. Media outlets like Juxtapoz and Hypebeast were his first brushes (lame pun intended) with public exposure. Over time, his works have become more muted, more introspective than those from a decade ago depicting baseball and soccer players as, in his words, “awkward, grotesque figures”.

Hiroya Kurata
Installation view at SPRING/BREAK Art Show 2019 with KOKI Arts
Courtesy of the artist and KOKI Arts, Tokyo

 

The theme of family and domestic life is a new topic for Kurata. Where before there were exaggerated sportsmen, there are now seemingly blithe scenes of parents and children at home and at play. “I played both soccer and baseball as a kid,” he notes, “but after having a kid I decided that I didn’t necessarily want those images in my home. Family is an open subject, but it’s a personal one.”

Now, even as his oeuvre has lost none of its irreverent vibrancy, it has adopted a delicate veil of domesticity with blazing blue skylines and interiors splashed with sunny Tuscan yellows. Foliage and greenery figure prominently into his works, serving as both compositional tools and reflections of a peaceful, suburban existence.

 

Hiroya Kurata
Bike Ride (2018)
Oil on canvas
20″ x 24″
Courtesy of the artist

 

 

But the faces of his subjects are not always consistent with domestic bliss, nor are they exactly indicative of the activities of the bodies on which they sit. Some faces express surprise, shock, bewilderment, or panic.

What’s clear is that Kurata probes a deeper anxiety latent in contemporary acts of existence: must we constantly appear as we’re expected to? Must we always display ourselves as calm, collected and well-assembled when we are all teetering on the edge of madness and breakdown? There are small, barely-detectable hints to this in Kurata’s paintings.

 

Hiroya Kurata
Yellow Sports Car (2018)
Oil on canvas
24″ x 20″
Courtesy of the artist

 

He is still developing his audience, still building his practice, with his most recent showing as an installation created for this year’s SPRING/BREAK Art Show with Hiro Tsuchiya under the banner of KOKI Arts, Tokyo. The artists worked together on the installation layout and design, with a sculptural “astro turf drawing” to divide the space.

 

Hiroya Kurata and Hiro Tsuchiya
Installation view at SPRING/BREAK Art Show 2019 with KOKI Arts
Courtesy of the artists and KOKI Arts, Tokyo

 

Now, Kurata will graduate to a solo presentation with Monya Rowe, as the gallerist has made a celebrated return to New York City after a “snow-birding” period based in St. Augustine, Florida.

Hiroya Kurata’s New Work solo exhibition opens at Monya Rowe Gallery on May 16th and runs through June 15th.

 

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