Tokyo Art Fair: Neil Hamamoto 

March 7 - 10, 2024
Tokyo International Forum
3-Chome-5-1 Marunouchi Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan

JO-HS is delighted to present new work by Neil Hamamoto for Art Fair Tokyo 2024. With these works, the NY-based artist employs his innovative multimedia technique at an unprecedented scale, magnifying his work’s formal power and conceptual scope.

The works debuted here grew out of Hamamoto’s ongoing series of bodega paintings: abstract compositions of fluorescent price stickers on plywood that the artist exhibited in bodegas throughout Manhattan. Initially compelled by the conceptual potency of price stickers in bodegas, Hamamoto has since discovered the stickers’ unexpected aesthetic appeal and unique technical challenges. The artist acquires his materials directly from an industrial manufacturer, constraining his color palette by whichever stickers are in stock (yellow, green, pink, orange and purple). Each roll of stickers contains 17,000 rectangular units of fluorescent color, which Hamamoto applies to plywood supports using a sticker gun. Some are untouched modules of color, while others are emblazoned with a price. Every painting goes through several iterations as the artist sees forms emerge and dissolve, following some figural allusions and occluding others.

Drawing on modern painting techniques from pointillism to gestural abstraction, Hamamoto probes the reified financial and cultural status of contemporary painting by swapping out paint, paintbrush and canvas for rolls of price stickers, a sticker gun and plywood. Aggregating points of color into an image, Hamamoto’s sticker paintings allude to the representational units of late nineteenth-century pointillism (points), gestural expressionism (drips), and digital photography (pixels). His bold use of color and graphic form extend the formal inquiries of OpArt into a new medium. Meanwhile, recurring oblong streaks and trails of dots allude to gestural brushwork, perhaps a symbolic short-hand for modern constructs of artistic expression.

The scale of Hamamoto’s new work has a striking formal effect, allowing the artist to venture further into figuration than ever before. The initial aesthetic pleasure of encountering Hamamoto’s work is complicated by the realization that each impressive image is made up of thousands of overlapping price stickers. Closer examination of the artist’s frames reveals a new form of currency: quarter-dollar coins function as washers affixing a protective layer of plexi-glass to the frame. Screws have been drilled through the center of each quarter, right through George Washington’s ear. The unflinching materiality of these new works demands that viewers consider how global economies align with image networks.

In Untitled (Triptych), 2024, the artist’s material excavation of a global economy of images is sharpened by allusions to Katsushika Hokusai’s iconic print The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, 1831. The wave form emerged to Hamamoto as he layered stickers on plywood; an evocative curve grew into a swell, eventually accumulating into a wave almost six-feet tall and ten-feet wide. Witnessing the iconic power of an image amplified across centuries, Hamamoto’s triptych connects his inquiry into visuality, consumption, and capital in today’s globalized world with a much longer history of global visual networks.

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Neil in his studio in New York. © Neil Hamamoto.

Neil Hamamoto (b. 1993) is a conceptual artist working across sculpture, painting, photography and installation. Hamamoto's work deploys a range of materials and fabrication techniques to explore themes of mass consumption, capitalism, language, social systems and the failures of humanity. Born and raised in New York City, Neil holds a B.S in Mechanical Engineering - Product Design from Stanford University and was artist in residence at Google (2022). He is the founder of WORTHLESSSTUDIOS, NY, an organization supporting emerging artists with studio space, tools and technical assistance. Recent exhibitions include Collective Imagination/Imaginacion Colectiva, JO-HS Gallery, 1-800 Happy Birthday, NADA, New York, Abstract, Room 57 Gallery, New York, Puro, La Paz, Bolivia.

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