Hiroyuki Hamada at the List

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Hiroyuki Hamada, whose modern artwork is recognized for its power and simplicity, opened his exhibition at the List Gallery with a reception on Thursday, November 6. Students, faculty, staff and the public used this opportunity to meet Hamada and speak to him about his work while enjoying refreshments and viewing the exhibit.

List Gallery Director Andrea Packard first came across Hamada’s art several years ago at a group show near his home in East Hampton, New Jersey, after which she began pursuing him to prepare an exhibit for the List Gallery. She describes Hamada’s work as “deceptively simple” because his somber, peaceful finished product belies the complexity of each piece and its painstaking production. His works begin as hollowed-out wooden forms which are then built up with burlap and plaster, coated with resin and drilled into or cut in a process which can take Hamada several years.

Upon closer examination, one can see past the at-first simple, geometric figures to the intricacies of Hamada’s works from each individual drilled circle to the works’ tiny, deliberate imperfections. Packard says the absence of vibrant color in Hamada’s artwork, which is primarily black and white or occasionally dark brown, allows the viewer to focus on form, increasing the art’s impact.

Youngin Chung ’11, after viewing Hamada’s works, said, “They’re really powerful in terms of their presence. What I really liked was that the sculptures were really simple but there were little details on the surface that you could concentrate on.”

Hamada focuses on the visual effects of his art saying, “I don’t put anything extra in the art besides what’s right there. I just call them by numbers and not by names, because it’s all about what you see. Visual art is a universal way of communication. You look at something and it makes you feel a certain way, whether you live here or somewhere else, and I really like that.”

Hamada’s interest in art as a universal language makes sense in light of his past. When he moved from Tokyo to West Virginia at age 18, Hamada had trouble learning English. He turned to geometry, which greatly influences his work, and art, both of which can be understood across language boundaries. After this, Hamada went on to graduate from the University of Maryland with an M.F.A. and hold residencies at the Fine Arts Works Center, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and various other locations. Some of Hamada’s recent exhibits include Plane Space in New York City, the Halsey Institute of Contemporary art in Charleston, SC and Randall Scott Gallery in Washington D.C.

His List Gallery exhibit marks his first show in the Greater Philadelphia area. This exhibit runs from November 6 to December 14, and the gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday 12 to 5 p.m.

The Phoenix