NANZUKA is pleased to present The Darkest Hour, an exhibition of new works by Hiroki Tsukuda at NANZUKA UNDERGROUND. Hiroki Tsukuda was born in Kagawa in 1978, and since graduating from the Department of Imaging Arts & Sciences at Musashino Art University, has continued to base his practice in Tokyo. Tsukuda continues to receive high international acclaim, recently presenting solo exhibitions such as “Monolog in the Doom” at The Museum of Modern Art, Gunma in 2019, and “They Live” at New York’s Petzel Gallery in March 2020, just before the city’s lockdown. 

As an important factor in understanding Tsukuda’s work, it is essential to discuss the influence of science-fiction movies, video games, animations, manga, music, and novels that Tsukuda has familiarized himself with since childhood. In Tsukuda’s work, which he refers to as the “outer world,” it is possible to observe a certain discrepancy, or the threshold of divergence between the future that Tsukuda has believed in since his childhood days and the reality of actually living in that future. The near-futuristic vision conveyed through Tsukuda’s work could perhaps be described as a manifestation of another “reality” that is conceived through the complex amalgam of the imagery that the artist currently encounters and perceives in the world in its present progressive form, and the information that he has documented and remembered over the course of his life thus far. 

The exhibition, “The Darkest Hour” reflects Tsukuda’s candid impressions towards the world at present, where problems such as the war between Russia and Ukraine, the smoldering conflict between China and the United States, and the social unrest caused by the expanding disparity in wealth have become increasingly prominent. Presented on this occasion is a selection of three-dimensional “collages” conceived by disassembling and reassembling small figurines from various media franchises such as Star Wars, Gundam, Monster Hunter, etc. which Tsukuda has collected over many years, as well as an installation comprised of miscellaneous found objects, and new mix-media paintings that he has independently developed through skillfully incorporating elements of ink, silk-screen, and acrylic. 

Tsukuda comments as follows on the exhibition: "I was born in 1978, and back in my childhood, Japan was an affluent country. With the fall ofthe Berlin Wall and the Cold War having come to an end, I felt that the world, at least as I saw through my young eyes, was somehow moving in a peaceful direction. Perhaps as a backlash against this, it seemed that much of the film and music of the 1980s and 1990s had portrayed a dark future. I enjoyed indulging in these dark visions of the future as products of fiction, and was greatly influenced by them. I am sure that at the time, no one would have imagined that the future would truly be so dark. One of my favorite films, Interstellar, quotes a poem by the poet Dylan Thomas.

“Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” 

"Set in a dystopian future where humanity is struggling to survive as the earth continues to perish, the film follows the story of an astronaut who travels to space in order to save mankind’s fate. Ever since seeing this film at the cinema, this particular passage has continued to reside with me. The darkest hour is before dawn. I believe in these words, and believe that the dawn will come."