NAOTAKA HIRO – Four Legged (Toe to Heel) 2014

18" x 20" x 65" Aluminum Courtesy of Brennan & Griffin Gallery, New York

18″ x 20″ x 65″ Aluminum
Courtesy of Brennan & Griffin Gallery, New York

Four-legged (Toe to Heel), detail

My work usually starts with the body parts. I am essentially blind: the subject an unknown world.  It’s a depressing yet unavoidable fact that my body is only understandable to myself when considered through a mediated form.  My works thus are connected through an imagination resulting from my encounter and engagement with the unknown.

Despite the fact that I have to close my eyes in order to cover for the casting process, the closed/half opened eyes in Four-legged represent my working theme, “Unknown/Blindness/Awe”, the world of my body parts, which I am unable to see and thus unable to confirm.

I casted from my toe(s) to heel(s).  With both hands, I put cast silicon smeared on my body simultaneously.  This creates 2 physiographic paths drawn on the body, starting from a front toe – front leg – nipple – eye – head – shoulder – butt – crotch – back leg and ending to heel.

Like my previous pieces, in working solo in my studio, I am interested in the distortion of the body from keeping the awkward positions for the duration of dry time.  

The body is split in front and back, essentially creating 4 legs.  The cast under crotch becomes a curled-up “tail” as in feared/coward animal.


I had asked Nao to send me his notes in Japanese, if he wanted. His denial was serious: “I never thought my work in Japanese during the process.” It was my mistake to consider his mother tongue the best way to convey his thoughts. I was making up a Japanese ghost in his body, a completely abstract Japanese identity about which I don’t know anything. The real person I do know works in Los Angeles, and translates into art all the impulses he can import from an extreme variety of experiences. George Steiner says that

“We are ‘tuned’ by the music that possesses us.” “All messages, all shaping of significance, verbal, representational, in the widest sense, musical, do have ‘a palpable design upon us.’ They ask to be heard, they demand understanding, where neither reception nor interpretation can never be neutral.”

Languages in this process are more than a filter, they are the dust put down by the human efforts of saving some, few voices that time would have devoured. Like a living dragon, each language spreads a different common sense. I tried to give my title to Naotaka Hiro’s sculpture in three languages:

L’inconnu qui est mon corps – Words sound like a public announcement sculpted by a prominent movement of the lips. The voice starts from the throat to gain power and volume.

My body, the unknown me – Requiring precision, the English meaning changes; words move to a more intimate game between the lips and the tongue; the voice is quiet, mumbling away.

Corporeità sconosciuta – Words became so abstract they start from the throat and flip down into the chest, disappearing.