StolenSpace Gallery: Haroshi 'Pain' (until 3rd November 2013)

Before beginning this post, I do realise that this exhibition has now finished, but it is so captivating and refreshing that I feel the need to blog about it...

StolenSpace Gallery, E1, is something of an anomaly within contemporary art galleries, abandoning all tags and labelling in order to display what might be considered as 'underground' art. The word 'alternative' is thrown around all too often, so StolenSpace are very careful as to avoid its use within their gallery. However, I feel that they have the right to it over many, as they pride themselves with showing art that has both 'pop', mainstream aspects but is ultimately its own. (In this case, the kitsch factor of Tokyo Pop is featured in Haroshi's work)

On its final day, I visited an exhibition at the gallery by an artist unknown to me, Haroshi, who is living the artist's dream by combining his two passions: art and skateboarding. No, he is not a performance artist; Haroshi has built his career on transforming old, and recycled, skateboards into sculptures. His exhibition, Pain, is a complete joy, as there is something autobiographical within his pieces, conveying the highs and lows of not only his sport of choice, but something that can be interpreted by each viewer to relate to their own life.

However, there are some pieces that will particularly reach out to the hearts of avid skateboarders. 'A Vulture Waits For The Dead' is, if you like, the centrepiece of the exhibition, both introducing the work of the artist  (it can be seen from Osborn Street - I imagine it has reeled many people in) and showing his capability to work on a large scale. The intricate and smooth detail of the sculpture alongside the completeness of the whole skateboards shows the versatility of Haroshi's work as both an installation artist and a sculptor, despite his trademark material.

For those less interested in skateboarding, the raw emotion found in Haroshi's sculptures are an entity in themselves. The patterned recycled skateboards give a strong, consistent sense of the artist's ownership. Each piece within the exhibition is inherently Haroshi - a smooth finish to the materials used and the horizontal striping are distinctive and unmistakably unique. One that really caught my eye was 'Life of Pain', pictured below. The heart shape appears to be a complete step back from the attention-grabbing vulture at the front of the collection, towards something more humble and poignant. The rip effect in the centre of the heart shows the strain that comes with such intense passion, which every viewer can relate to.

Image courtesy of Haroshi on Facebook (

The exhibition really is a celebration of life, colour and passion, but, importantly, does not isolate those without a specific interest in skateboarding. The collection can be enjoyed by anyone, whether their interest lies in sculpture, sport, ceramics, photography or the contextual side of art. Displaying such a diverse range of fields within one exhibition by a single artist produces a fantastic spectacle.

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