Koji Shiroshita 城下浩伺

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PICTURE Koji Shiroshita Exhibition /  Photo by Masashi Mihotani

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Artist Talk 
Koji Shiroshita and Masashi Mihotani

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When do we start calling it “a picture”
or stop calling it “a picture” —
I think this is still a picture.

It’s undeniable that now we see pictures more often on PC’s or smartphones through platforms such as social media, and I’ve had a question for these few years: What actually is a “picture”?

This exhibition embodies that question
and the best answer that I can come up with for it.

I had no idea that I would have no choice but to have this exhibition online, therefore seen exclusively via PC or smartphone due to the expanding infections of the virus.

I can’t help but feeling that it’s oddly fortuitous.

June 22.

The exhibition “Picture” @hitoto_ten5 has closed. Thank you for participating in the exhibition for the two months since it started online on April 18.

I think this series will become one of the pillars of my production. It was a big turning point for me to present the theme and the works that I have been thinking for several years in this particular situation, the spread of the coronavirus and the self-restraint of social activities.

As I mentioned in my talk event with Mihodani on the last day of the exhibition, all the works I want to create now will be an extension of the theme and the works of this exhibition in this situation, after coronavirus pandemic.

Actuality, besides the works in PICTURE, I’ve been painting a large piece for another exhibition for almost a year.

However, after the coronavirus pandemic and the Picture exhibition, I felt that I didn’t want to exhibit this piece now, so I stopped creating it just before it was completed. The way to interact with society and a lot of things seem to be back to normal, but I actually feel like they have changed for me.

I feel anxious, but more than that, I’m looking forward to my future works and my future world.

Thank you so much for your help, everyone of Hitoto! In a situation that a lot of things didn’t go like the usual because of the coronavirus pandemic, they always asked my opinion and supported. Thank you so much.

As my next move, I will start with the Picture online traveling exhibition. Thank you for your continued support.

June 19.

Description of Works – #09

I created this picture with only water.

Water-absorbed and blurred paper, water-repelling areas and unpainted paper surfaces.

The initial painting became just a wavy paper now.

June 18.

Description of Works – #02

This is the piece that was chosen as the main visual for the first flyer. Tanaka-san, the designer of Hitoto, suggested which picture to use for the flyer.

I created a picture in my mind, “This is the kind of picture I want to make,” and then painted it in Mihotani-san’s studio. So I anticipated that it might be contrived, but I think it made for a good picture. The poster was also made from this work.

June 17.

Description of Works – #04 and #08

These are actually the same painting, but the time between when they were finished painting and when they were taken the photos and the way the light was shone on them are different.

Even the people who take the time to see the exhibition don’t seem to notice, and they are usually surprised when I reveal that to them.

June 16.

Description of Works – #1 and #5

I’ve had these two images in my head for several years. I wrestled alone with the possibility of making it work as a piece of painting, trying and failing to devise the art materials and trying to photograph it myself.

Later, when I saw the images Mihotani-san had taken, I was convinced that I could present them as a work of art. I think these pictures are somewhere in between my previous paintings and this exhibition, “PICTURE”.

I thought it was interesting that #5 had some parts that were in focus and some that were not.

June 15.
I was selected as a recipient of the Kyoto City Emergency Incentive Fund for Art and Cultural Activities.
The project that received the encouragement is "Online Traveling Exhibition" of Picture. This is a project in which I will send my works to galleries in distant places where I am unable to visit due to coronavirus pandemic, have them install the exhibition, photograph the exhibition with a VR camera and send me the data, and then we will create a web site and publish it as an online exhibition.

During the period of self-restraint caused by the coronavirus, I had no choice but to start an online exhibition, but I could feel the potential of an online exhibition that could be viewed from anywhere in the world.
At the same time, I strongly feel the value of real places and the reason for their existence. I think if I showed it in another location, in a different gallery, and showed it as an online exhibition, something different would appear.

The domestic infection situation is winding down and we’ re able to visit the local galleries and museums, but we don’ t know when we will be able to travel to distant places, especially overseas.
But I want more people to see these works. I was supposed to be exhibiting in the U.S. by now, but the coronavirus prevented me from doing so. But I can make my works travel across the ocean. And I will be able to create an online exhibition abroad even though I stay in Japan.

I don’t yet have any galleries to host a traveling exhibition at all. I am looking for galleries as far away from Kansai area as possible, which agree with my intentions and are willing to install the exhibition. I’ll be making a web page with a summary of the project soon. If you have a gallery you’d like to recommend, domestic or international, please share it with me! Thank you very much.

June 11.

The gallery has been open since May 30 and the exhibition is now available for people to see in person. Up until the day before the opening, I had been thinking that “Should I really open it? Wouldn’t the concept be clearer if it ended up as an online exhibit?”, but after opening it, I thought it was good to open it.

Some people found the sign by chance and come into the gallery , but there are more people than I expected who say they’ve been viewing the online exhibition throughout the self-restraint, or reading the text here. Also, compared to previous exhibitions, many people were more willing to talk about what they felt and thought about the works and the exhibition this time around, and I wonder if the fact that I’ve been updating the texts here might make them do so.

The exhibition “PICTURE” at hitoto will last 10 days. I’d like to summarize and share what I’ve been thinking during the 42 days online exhibition and the physical exhibition.

On June 20, the last day of the exhibition, we plan to broadcast a talk with Mr. Mihodani, who took the photos of the works. So I wish I could talk about a lot of things there as well, but I’m not sure I can speak well. I’ll do my best, though.

May 29.

Last week, the state of emergency was declared lifted. I felt like the government’s policies and the atmosphere in the world had suddenly changed, and for a few days I felt like I wasn’t keeping up with it.

Meanwhile, hitoto-san asked me to open a gallery, but I couldn’t immediately respond to the suggestion. Of course, I’m very happy that people would be able to actually see the work and the exhibition, but to be honest, I spent a long time thinking that I couldn’t open the gallery anymore, or that it would be better not to open it.  I couldn’t immediately switch my mind.

But if you think about it, the flow of this exhibition, from the birth of the work, to the exhibition, to the arrival of the coronavirus, to the online exhibition, has been a natural progression. As a result, the gallery opening now is part of a series of things. For those of you who have been watching with interest, I’d like you to keep up with it a little longer.

After talking with Hitoto, we have decided to open the gallery tomorrow, May 30th.

During the exhibition, the gallery will take the following measures to prevent infection.

– Open doors and windows to provide constant ventilation.

– Disinfect common areas, such as doorknobs, regularly.

– Set up a hand gel at the entrance.

– We ask for your cooperation in wearing a mask.

– Admission may be limited.

Please be careful not to get infected along the way.

May 15.

Here are the texts by Masashi Mihotani, who photographed the works for this exhibition “PICTURE”, in three pieces. Today is the last installment.

Today, we are in a transitional period in which we see things through LCD screens. In this strange time that people all over the world are currently facing, the power of the “country of digital” I mentioned above is spreading with increasing speed. If, 100 years from now, all human beings on the planet will be digital natives, the phrase “see on screen” may become obsolete and have no meaning. (It is questionable whether the functions of the language are the same as they are today.) If that happens, I wonder what kind of sensation it will become.

When we get a device which was used to “regenerate” as somatic sensation, what would happen if it started to be “expressed” as a native language? The “eyes” that we watch pictures, photos, and smart phones used to be just one type of cellular tissue that received light as energy more than 500 million years ago. It was a single-functional object that only sensed light, but the later birth of sight drastically changed the balance of the biotic world and became a strong selection pressure that stimulated various forms of evolution.

Koji’s works and current situation could be a testament to the endless potential of how one picture can be seen. Or is it the opposite? In any case, I’d like to see what appears there.

Through the opportunity of this exhibition, I have been thinking about what photography is. If you have read my texts so far, you may understand that it overlaps with the question, “What is painting?”, theme of this exhibition. The form of appreciation forced upon us by the current situation is not a mere replay of information, but a proposal for a new channel that can be perceived from multiple perspectives. The question of how it can be seen is also interrelated with our questions.

To be quite frank, I don’t feel that the current state of display is sufficient to show that. But at least for me, it definitely gives a chance to think about that. Because of this, I would like to update my understanding while receiving various reactions.

Text: Masashi Mihotani, Photographer

May 14.

Here are the texts by Masashi Mihotani, who photographed the works for this exhibition “PICTURE”, in three pieces. Today is the second installment.

LCD screen is a familiar layer for us nowadays, and for Koji, who routinely uses the Internet and SNS, it is no exception. The reality of the luminescent film has penetrated into our daily life in parallel with the physical three dimensions of painting/photography. It also influences our visual perception. In a sense, it is similar to the sense of language. I would say it’s a synaesthesia that has been cultivated according to the birth and prosperity of a digital country. (So, for example, it can be acquired to some extent, and there’s a generation gap.)

When we look at the actual scene, the view is captured through a perspective composition. The landscape shrinks in the foreground and expands in the distance. In other words, things in the distance look small and things in front look large. This is a common sense feeling that is too obvious for us today. On the other hand, it is also considered to be camera obscura, a way to catch a landscape, which began in the era of Aristotle, who found out the shape of the sun in the sunlight filtering through trees. Along with the development of geometry and optics, human vision has also changed. It may be hard to believe that there are sensory differences in the way we see with the naked eye as well as in our common sense and values. But perhaps the history of painting can tell its story.

“What’s a painting?” I don’t know much about it. However, if you go back in time to about 200 years ago, when the technology of photography is said to have been born, and even further back in time, there were many people who painted. And there should be no “photography” yet, but the painters knew the word. What does that mean? This is because the phrase “photograph” was used in the sense of “to capture the figure”. “Photograph” is written as “写真” in Japanese. At that time, the word “真” meant “figure”, and portrait-paintings were mainly called photographs. In other words, a “photograph” was a “painting” itself. Although there are various theories, photography, a chemical technology that was born from that era, is now carried in everyone’s pocket after the rise of the digital camera, and has been spreading in various ways with the evolution of technology, such as video, VR and the combination of artificial intelligence.

To be continued.

Text: Masashi Mihotani, Photographer

May 13.

Here is the text written by Masashi Mihotani, who photographed the works for the current exhibition “PICTURE”.

My name is Masashi Mihotani and I am involved in the PICTURE exhibition as a photographer. This exhibition has the process of taking photographs of the paintings by the artist Koji Shiroshita with a camera, and outputting them as pictures. I’m involved in the photographic part of it.

His paintings in this exhibition were painted one after another in a few minutes, unlike his usual series, which takes a long time to paint with great elaboration. The paintings, immediately after being finished with the brush and ink, were still holding on to the surface with surface tension, without water being absorbed into the paper or evaporating into the air, so that the whole picture would flow and move if it were moved even a little. I heard him saying, “I often wondered if I could capture this moment when I was painting at home”, and I was seeing it fresh on the tabletop with my camera, wondering if this was what he was talking about.

Under the fluorescent lights in the studio, amidst the light bouncing off the surface of a painting with a lot of black and moisture in all directions, a lens placed on one end of a painting converges the light reflecting back toward that one point and records it as a two-dimensional image. I felt like I was just pressing the shutter button, but I was a little relieved to see that he seemed to be happy with the results. In the meantime, a pandemic occurred and almost all the establishments in the city began to close. At the same time, I was planning to exhibit at another art fair, but the day before the installation, I was informed that the event would not be held. I had thought of the situation as a “fire on the opposite shore”, but from the time I saw a sign at the entrance to the art fair with the words “Cancel” written on it, I began to realize the magnitude of the situation. That was the end of February, and I began to think about the PICTURE exhibition that was coming up in two months.

Under such circumstances, with the increasing use of the Internet, Koji decided to turn to online, not because he thought, “So let’s do it too,” but because he thought, “What can we do now?” At that time, I felt that the proposition that this exhibition was based on the question of “what is a picture and what is not a picture” had been raised again.

To be continued.

Text: Masashi Mihotani, Photographer

May 12.

Today, I walked 45 minutes one way to see a friend’s exhibition at a gallery in Kyoto. The whole time I was walking, I was thinking about another friend who had sent me a message this morning. On the way back, I stopped at the Kyoto Imperial Palace. The people were sparse and the trees and grass were very vigorous and large. I found a four-leaf clover while eating my lunch there, so I put it in a book I bought at the gallery and walked home again for about 45 minutes. It was a good exhibition, good pictures. It was a day that I was happy that the gallery was open.

May 11.

I will write the opposite of what I did yesterday. The works of this exhibition “PICTURE” are completely different, but I usually use a thin pen called a G-pen to draw detailed pictures, and I’ve been creating a lot of big pieces over 100cm in the last few years. In these works, what you see when you see them in their entirety or when you see them up close changes quite a bit, but it’s hard to express that on Instagram and other online sites.

I will write the opposite of what I did yesterday. The works of this exhibition “PICTURE” are completely different, but I usually use a thin pen called a G-pen to draw detailed pictures, and I’ve been creating a lot of big pieces over 100cm in the last few years. In these works, what you see when you see them in their entirety or when you see them up close changes quite a bit, but it’s hard to express that on Instagram and other online sites.

Even if I combine a photo of the whole picture with a photo of the details, I feel the impression is different from the real thing when viewed on the small screen of a smartphone. It’s hard to tell about these works other than to let people see them in person. It’s hard to achieve an ideal situation without a gallery, which requires well-organized walls, a cleaned room, and a calm environment in which to view the work.

I really liked Lee Kitt’s “We used to be more sensitive.”, which I saw at the Hara Museum in 2018, and that exhibition was wonderful in that it used the entire space, the breeze from the fans, and the audience’s modest reactions were part of the work. The timing was also good, since it was after the museum was announced that it would be closing.

It’s becoming commonplace to see everything in the world through a display, not just pictures, and my brain will become more and more accustomed to it in the future. But works that can only be completed on that day, that moment, and that place are really interesting and fascinating. An exhibition that makes people want to go see it at all costs is what I want to create.

May 10.

Maybe it’s been two or three years, I’ve felt the number of people who enjoy viewing pictures on Instagram is increasing. I used to enjoy viewing the images on my smartphone, such as Instagram, while imagining a real art piece (original painting) beyond the image. However, I have a feeling that pure “appreciation” on display is gradually becoming a reality.

I don’t think that hand-drawn work is better (or more valuable).

Sometimes I see the real piece and think, “The picture I saw on Instagram is better,” but I don’t think it’s bad either. If they’ re giving their best performance on Instagram, isn’t that a “painting”?

One of the problems is that the original art cannot be sold in that way, but this is a matter of money ( value addition ), not artistry.

May 9.

When I read the text I wrote in this place before the opening of the exhibition again, I feel now that I was writing a little too pessimistically about not being able to open the gallery. People who read that might be inclined to think, “I feel sorry for him now that the exhibition has become an online exhibition.”

In fact, when I was trying to decide not to open the gallery, when I made the decision, I had, and still have, positive intentions and bright hopes for that decision. It was hard to exhibit at that time, with so many things not going as well as usual, but I would say that I was blessed with the opportunity to experience it as an artist.

However, I don’t think that online exhibitions can replace real ones at all. I think the roles are totally different.

May 8.

It’s a strange sight that only the artworks are displayed in the unopened gallery for a long time.

May 7.

I am planning to hold an online artist talk with Masashi Mihotani, who photographed the works for “Picture”, in the near future. I had many conversations with him while creating the works. We tell each other what we’ve been interested in lately, and I’m reading a book he recommended. He’s very interested in and understanding the concept of this work, so I’m expecting him to be able to explain it better than I can.

When I first saw his photos in 2012, I thought, “If I had been a photographer, I might have taken pictures like this. I think we have a few similar sensibilities, but there are a lot of very different parts. I’m hoping it will be an interesting talk show.

I’ve never been able to speak well on a talk show, but I wonder if I can relax a bit when I talk online without an audience. I’ll do my best.

May 6.

A few days before my online exhibition was launched, the state of emergency was declared for all prefectures. Moreover, yesterday, a “new way of life” was announced. It’s been said that this situation may continue for the next year or two. The rules of the world are changing more and more.

I still work in a bookstore and I’m very scared every day at the risk of getting infected and the risk of becoming a source of infection myself, but I would say that I’ve come to think that the world is a little bit better than it was before the coronavirus, and I’m slowly growing to like it.

Maybe it’s only now, but it seems that many people are becoming kinder to others… I feel that it has become easier and more natural to care for and accept people who don’t think the same way as I do, and to help them if they are in trouble.

I don’t know how to describe it, but for me, there is a connection between that kind of atmosphere and the exhibition I’m holding now, and it’s a very good fit. This work began with a personal desire: I’m painting alone in the midnight and I want to capture the moment before the materials for this painting are dry! Then I asked Mihotani to photograph them, printed them, created the exhibition space, and with each step, it seems to become more and more “public”. It made me feel that I could and should expand it even more.

Even scientists and economists don’t know what the world will become in the coming years in a situation that we may have to live with a coronavirus. But now, I want to say irresponsibly, “This is how I will live my life while making my art.”

May 5.

In this exhibition, I cannot, of course, be in the gallery as usual to see the reactions of visitors, hear their impressions, or talk to them, but I’ve been getting a lot of messages from people who have seen the online exhibition. They are looking forward to seeing the artworks in person in the gallery after the coronavirus is over.

The reason why I decided to turn the exhibition into an online exhibition even before the state of emergency was declared was because the experience of viewing the pieces through a display suited the concept of this works. I guess I was lucky in a way. However, “coronavirus”, a too strong element might make it difficult to think more deeply about the theme of this exhibition: what is painting? when do we start calling it “a picture” or stop calling it “a picture”?  I think that if you can experience the exhibition in the gallery, you will be able to notice something. But I’m still trying to figure out how to convey it through the online exhibition.

May 4.

The “PICTURE” exhibition, which began on April 18, was originally scheduled to be held until May 2. That means that now, on the 4th of May, we are in bonus time or loss time, and we are in the exhibition period that did not exist in the world before the coronavirus.

The state of emergency was declared on April 7 and was originally scheduled to last until May 6. But the government is expected to announce today that they will extend it until May 31. To be honest, I don’t think the coronavirus will be over by May 31.

I had written about what I had been thinking until the exhibition started. From today, I’ll start to write about what I’ve been thinking since the exhibition started.

April 19

The online exhibition has launched. I always stay at the gallery on the first day of my exhibition, so it was a very strange feeling to be at home. But just like the first day of an exhibition as usual, I was restless all day. I don’t know who’s coming to see it. I’ve heard from Mifuku Design, the web designer, that a lot of people were coming to see the site, and I’ve received messages from my friends saying that they’ve seen it, so I know quite many people saw the exhibition. However, it’s not the same as watching and talking to people in front of the artworks in the gallery’s exhibition space.

In the evening, Tanaka-san from Hitoto contacted me and gave me a report on the sales of the posters and prints. A person who has been collecting my works for years had purchased a larger size print. I was so happy. This is a milestone exhibition for me, and he had chosen an iconic piece from the works. I hadn’t told him about it at all, but I wondered if he’d understand that because he’d been looking at my works for so long.

April 17

Tomorrow, April 18, is the first day of the exhibition. The online exhibition will start at 0 am. We will not open the real gallery to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 infection.

I decided to do the online exhibition around the end of March. At the time, I didn’t think I would be in a situation where I wouldn’t be able to get people to show at the gallery yet. I thought it would be difficult to get a lot of people to come to the gallery, so I decided to start this online exhibition in order to get people who can’t come to the gallery to see the exhibition online. That was the original form of this online exhibition. I never thought there would be such an increase in the number of people infected and so many people would die.

I’m an artist and also work at a bookstore. A few days ago, the hours of operation were finally shortened a bit, but the shop will not be closed. It’s really scary to work thinking that I might get infected and that I’m already infected and spreading the virus all over the place. I’ve been preparing for the exhibition, wondering if I have no choice but to quit the job.

Information about COVID-19 is changing daily, but it seems that we will have to live with the coronavirus for another year or two. The things we used to take for granted in the world have been changing in the last few weeks. I can’t think of a brighter side yet.

Since I started exhibiting my works at galleries, I’ve come to realize the importance of close communication, meeting people face-to-face and sharing something with them. Until then, I hadn’t really wanted to meet many people, and I thought my world was almost complete. I was only passing through people, and I didn’t really use my five senses to interact with people. Since I started exhibiting my works, I’ve been using a lot of sensations, like “You’ve grown your hair,” “You smell different today,” “You bought new shoes,” “You’re talking loudly today,” “You sound different today, do you have a cold, or hay fever?” or shaking hand, tapping on the shoulder. I’ve broadened my perspective by communicating with people who have skills and talents that I don’t have, people who have a different way of dealing with things than I do, people who are extremely kind, people who are hard to get along with, people who are elusive, people with different jobs and sensibilities. Now, because of COVID-19, it’s hard to communicate like that. We can text and talk on Zoom or Skype, but it’s only visual and auditory. It makes me anxious that I can only perceive the person’s face or the tone of their voice. There is no smell and detailed information that can’t be picked up by a camera or a microphone.

Will humans learn new ways to communicate in the future?

What new ways of meeting will be created?

It may be that I start a new communication with people who know me for the first time through this online exhibition. I want to find it.

April 16

I had many different images in my mind and tried many different ways before the works of “Picture” took shapes. It’s hard to explain, but I tried to make an artwork like a shadow. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. Looking back now, the images that I couldn’t make into artworks at that time are also connected to the works of “Picture”.  I think I need to keep myself flat in order to connect the images to artworks. What I mean is that I shouldn’t covet what belongs to others. I wait patiently for what comes out of me.  It can take years, but I think it’s the only way to do it.

April 15

Continued from yesterday. I rarely make artwork from a concept, and always images that I can’t explain come to me first. After a few years of trial and error to express the image I had in my head, I came to take this method which is using a camera. Seeing the process of the works taking shapes little by little made me think again about whether the works are paintings or a photographs and what the scope of “painting” is. Is a photograph of a painting an “image” and not a “painting”? But if it is the “image”  that I created and wanted to see, isn’t it a “painting”? The title “PICTURE” came to mind while I was thinking about it like that.

“When do we start calling it “a picture” or stop calling it “a picture” —  I think this is still a picture.”

These sentences, which I wrote for the flyer, were words that came naturally to me while I was making the artworks. As a result, it may be said that this is my current response to the question, “If you express what paintings / arts are in your own words, what would you say?”.

April 14

I had never titled any of my works or exhibitions. My works were always titled “Untitled” and the name of the exhibitions were “Koji Shiroshita Exhibition”, because I didn’t want to limit the way my work would be received by giving it a specific title. I’m also very bad at verbalizing my works. I thought, “I’m making my works because I can’t explain it in words,” or “You can understand it when you see it.”  I think this is a very comfortable word for artists. However, I think it was also a stereotyped excuse, which means running away from how the works relate to society.

For several years now, I’ve been wondering what it means for the artists themselves to verbalize their works. Several years ago, I held a gallery talk whose theme was based on it in my own solo exhibition. You can read the talk here, but I’m sorry that it is only in Japanese. Honestly, I don’t want you to read it because my talk is so awful and embarrassing. I’ve never been able to read it. I was frustrated because I wanted to properly answer the question from the guest Takashi Fukumoto, but I couldn’t do it at all. And I couldn’t face my poor talk, so I didn’t read it back even though the talk had been texted.

However, I realized that I had misremembered many things about it when I read the talk for the first time in about three years as I was writing this. Mr. Fukumoto said, “All the artists who had created highly creative artworks in the history of art asked what paintings / arts are, in their own unique way. If you express that question in your own words, what would you say?” Reading my response to it, it seemed that I took the question as “What is painting? Give me an answer now.” And I couldn’t answer it well at all, and erased it from my memory, feeling defeated.

To be continued.

April 13

I had announced to some people that I was going to do a residency and exhibit in Springfield, Oregon in May and June. Nancie and Mark, the owners of a guesthouse, were going to give us a place to stay and an exhibition space. Springfield is located to the south of Portland, which is home to many artists. They recommended that I exhibit at a gallery in Portland, but I wanted to exhibit n a gallery that no one has ever seen before in Springfield where they live. I decided to make a gallery in a former garage that is now being used as a community space for local people and hold my exhibition. I was excited to think about the composition of the exhibit and imagine what life in America would be like. However, around February, I began to hear the name of the coronavirus and the news that Asians were discriminated against because they were called “corona” or something like that in the West, which made me a little afraid of going to the United States. Nancie and Mark are very nice people, so I don’t worry about that at all, but I might face such discrimination in the US. But isn’t it the artist who can turn a bad or sad thing into artworks, let’s go positively! I thought. In the end, it wasn’t such a problem that made it impossible for me to go to the U.S., but it left me thinking that artists can turn bad and sad things into artworks. 

I definitely want to go to Springfield, even if it’s next year or next year.

April 12

I got a proof of the poster, which was so cool! I was worried about whether the size was too big, but it wasn’t at all.  I can’t wait to show it to everyone. I wanted to show the artworks in person at the gallery, although I will show it online. I was supposed to be able to show everyone the artworks in person the following weekend. It’s sad.

April 11

It was a few months ago when I hadn’t heard about COVID-19. In a meeting, Mr. Tanaka, the designer of Hitoto, asked me if I had anything else I wanted to sell in addition to my artworks. I’ve never made postcards, calendars or other products before. I’ve sold only the original artworks at my exhibitions. The original picture is the best, I don’t need other things, I thought. However, there are no original drawings or paintings in this exhibition. I thought it would be interesting to make some products at this time. 

He suggested making a poster. The size of the poster is B2 (515 x 728mm). He recommended the poster smaller and more accessible, but I didn’t want to. We decided to ask a printing company in Kyoto, called Sunm Color, which has a high reputation for printing photo books. It will be printed with two specific colors and varnished, numbered in a limited edition of 100 copies. I wanted to make it better as much as possible because it’s my first product, so I took a lot the budget on the size and printing method. 

This size has quite a presence, so it might not be easy to display it and I might struggle to get them sold out. But I was confident that if people saw the exhibition, they would want it.  After all, because of COVID-19, I can’t show the exhibition in person for a while, but if you see the online exhibition and want to see it in person, the poster would make you a little bit feel like you are seeing the exhibition. Please buy it. It will be available on the online exhibition which starts on April 18.  It was a publicity.

April 10

The look of this site has changed a bit. It’s empty Hitoto. Eight days later, on April 18, the artworks will appear here. If you’re watching it on your computer, try moving your mouse over the photo. If smartphone, tap the photo.

April 9

The government has declared a state of emergency for the seven cities of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka as a countermeasure against COVID-19 infection. I’ve been trying to figure out how to make the exhibition with the members of Hitoto while seeing the situation of the spread of the infection, the movement of people, and the announcement by the government. Today we had an online meeting by Zoom and decided the period of the exhibition, like this

– The online exhibition will open on April 18.

– Once the COVID-19 infection situation has calmed down and we are able to get people to come to the venue, we will close the online exhibition and open the Hitoto. We will announce the timing on the site.

I was going to have an online and gallery show at the same time, but I decided not to open the gallery until the situation calmed down. You should watch it online at home. And once the situation have calmed down, please visit the gallery to see it in person. If the situation doesn’t settle down for any length of time, at worst, it might be impossible to actually get people to see the exhibit. It would be extremely frustrating for me who created the works. However, I made this decision because I feared that my loved people might get infected by having them come to the exhibition. 

I’m thinking with members of Hitoto about how to make the online exhibition closer to the feeling of visiting the exhibition in person.

April 8

At the end of March. Due to the COVID-19, we had to change the schedule for preparing the exhibition again and again. Usually, it’s the original pictures that are displayed, so I only have to finish and dry them by the day of installing, but this time it was different. Finally, there was a task of printout. The facility where I was going to print the works with Mihotani-san got temporarily closed due to COVID-19. First it was announced to close until March 18, then it was extended until the end of March, and finally I got a call that they couldn’t predict when they would be able to reopen it.

Mihotani-san arranged for me to use the facilities of his old school. Nevertheless, I was feeling restless every day because of the tension of not knowing when COVID-19 would prevent us from entering the school building. When I finally got the output, I was so happy. I was relieved to be able to print them, moreover, they were so cool.

I want to think again about the “completion” of this pictures. The act of my painting was already finished. And the taking photos by Mihotani-san was also finished. There is no “original picture”. Until I printed them, I thought that the data in my computer was the “finished works”. But when I saw the output, I’m like, “This is it!” I thought. I usually exhibit “original pictures”, so this time lag is very strange and interesting. I wonder where the “completion” of works are for photographers. I’d like to ask Mihotani-san about it next time.

April 7

We made the artworks of “Picture” at an underground studio of Kagan Hotel, a place  in Kyoto where young artists were creating and exhibiting artworks at. Masashi Mihotani who took photos of the artworks is one of its artists-in-residence, and moved to Kyoto in autumn 2019.

In the winter, Mihotani invited me to dinner. We had nabe cuisine with Keith Spencer and Genki Sato, artists and Ching-ann tsai, a staff of Kagan Hotel. I heard that Mihotani didn’t have a heater, which made me decide to give my oil heater that I didn’t use. I had not used it because the current residence has air conditioners, but it used to really help me at previous residence during winter. By the way, Kagan Hotel is very near the previous residence.

I asked him how to take photos of the artworks when he came to my home to take the oil heater, and it got decided to create the works together.

It was going naturally, but now I think it was the correct answer. I’m surprised

April 6

My favorite Leo Lionni’s book is Frederick, which is a story of a mouse called Frederick which doesn’t work with his colleague gathering food to prepare for Winter. I had forgotten it for a while, but I think of it now.

April 5

I guess human and viruses have equal value for the Earth.

April 4

In late March. COVID-19 wasn’t over at all. I had scheduled my exhibition to start on April 18, but I was not sure if I could prepare for it as usual, and start it without fail. It seemed that exhibitions were regarded as one of nonessential and nonurgent activities.

I never intended to cancel or postpone the exhibition at that time. However, most museums had closed, and it seemed difficult for artists holding exhibitions at galleries to encourage people to go there. 

The situation was getting worse day by day.

April 3

The plan of this exhibition started when I was thinking about another exhibition. That is an exhibition at Kousagisha Gallery in Kyoto, which is going to be held in Nov 2020. Tomoya Kato, an artist, a gallerist of the gallery, and one of my friends invited me.  I was very happy, but couldn’t proceed with the project well, and it put on hold.

However, he asked me about it again around two years ago. I was glad and came up with a lot of ideas, but they were too many to integrate and I got confused. It was like too many themes were stuffed in an exhibition. I concluded to divide them to some exhibitions. Then, I asked Hitoto, one of my favorite galleries. Yoshikazu Ooka who I work with in Act, a group of creators, is one of its owners. He approved it and obtained agreement from Tatsuya Tanaka and Akari Yamage who were another owners, and the plan of exhibition got started.

After that, I told Tanaka “Actually, what I want to exhibit is not paintings”. He was surprised.

April 2

I’d like to talk about how the works were born. I usually make artworks at midnight by myself. I have a moment that my work suddenly gets completed while painting a picture that I have estimated it takes a week or a month. That surprises and satisfies me, but I get feeling of wrongness when I see it on the next day. It is absolutely different from the yesterday’s. Then, I retouch it to get it completed. After I repeat retouching and check it again and again, a totally different artwork gets completed. It is completely finished and I like it, but it is another work, not “that” work. I wanted to capture the moment that I thought it was completed, and tried changing materials or way to paint, but that didn’t work well. Finally, I found a way to keep them, that was to take photos. At the end of the last year, I had an opportunity to get my works taken photos by Masashi Mihotani, a photographer. An image that I had wanted to see was there. It was perfect. His point of view, technique of photo or something like that amazed me. Is it a painting or a photo? I think it is a picture.

April 1

I have a question where the essence of picture is, while opportunities to see pictures on social media through displays of laptops and smartphones are increasing nowadays. This exhibition is my question for you, and also my answer as of now.

I started this project a year ago, and I am going to show you the artworks soon, but now it is getting difficult to have you come to the venue and see the artworks directly due to the spread of COVID-19.

I had to think about if I should cancel the exhibition or not, but I strongly want to show the artworks now, then, I decided to exhibit them and have an online exhibition here simultaneously. I hope the covid-19 situation gets resolved to allow you to see the exhibition at the venue, while updating this website around 0 am everyday.

That is a result I thought about what I can do as an artist now, but I feel a strange link between the artworks and the situation.



Size: 515 × 728mm

Numbered by the artist

¥4,400 (tax included)

Edition of 100

Offset printing(Duotone+Varnish)

Koji Shiroshita / Masashi Mihotani / Tatsuya Tanaka

No longer available on the Hitoto online store.


A4 size

¥22,000 (tax included)

Edition of 5 and 2 Artist’s Proofs

Pigment print

Size: 210 × 297mm

Signed and numbered by the artist

A3-nobi size

¥33,000 (tax included)

Edition of 5 and 2 Artist’s Proofs

Pigment print

Size: 329×483mm

Signed and numbered by the artist

No longer available on the Hitoto online store.


Koji Shiroshita

Artist https://koji-shiroshita.com

Born in Kyoto. Graduated from Kyoto University of Art and Design, Department of Information Design. After 10 years of drawing without publishing his artworks, he started to release them prolifically in 2013 with his debut solo exhibition. Among 4186 entries from 52 countries,he had won the 5th prize (the 3rd in Japan) at Art Olympia 2015, an International Open Art Competition. One of the co-founders of “_act_”, an art group in Osaka, Japan.

Masashi Mihotani

Photographer https://masashimihotani.com

Masashi Mihotani (b. 1987, Osaka) is a photographer whose work addresses ideas of awareness and perception within the context of consumerism. Initially self-taught, Mihotani graduated from Visual Arts Osaka’s photography department in 2015. In recent years he has focused primarily on utilizing everyday objects in place of film negatives to create photograms.

This work has been shown internationally, including a 2019 solo show at Kana Kawanishi Photography gallery (Tokyo, Japan) and as well as the 2019 Daili International Photography Festival (Daili, China) and Artists’ Fair Kyoto 2020 (Kyoto, Japan). In 2018 Mihotani received the Japan Photo Award for his “Images are for illustration purposes” series. He has been featured in IMA Step out! Vol.22 as well as numerous online publications. Mihotani is a current part-time photography instructor at Kyoto University of Art and Design and an artist-in-residence at Kagan Hotel in Kyoto, Japan.

Photo : Masashi Mihotani

Website : Mifuku Design https://mifuku-design.com

Flyer Design : Tatsuya Tanaka hitoto https://designsalad.net/

Photos of Exhibition view : Yoshikazu Ooka https://www.instagram.com/_107_/

Translation of the Statement : Yuki Matsushima http://pinetreetranslation.com

Gallery : hitoto #301 Tengo-Kyoei-building, 5-7-12 Tenjimbashi Kita-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka https://hitoto.info

Studio : KAGAN HOTEL 99 Sujakuhozo-cho, Shimogyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto https://kaganhotel.com/


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