Gallery Baton is pleased to announce New Home, a solo exhibition of Yuichi Hirako, from 5th June to 13th July 2024 in the Hannam-dong space, Seoul. Hirako deals with the coexistence and interdependent relationship between nature and humans through his original style of depiction, in which metaphors and symbols stand out. In this second solo exhibition with Gallery Baton, Hirako manifests his interests and particular subjects in richer expression by organically combining painting with sculpture or installation and selectively applying traits of diverse media.

Yuichi Hirako was born and spent his childhood in Okayama Prefecture of Japan, whose natural environment is outstanding and fertile. Having acknowledged that a dense forest adjacent to his village plays a pivotal role in the whole local ecosystem every flora and fauna relies on, he could naturally pay attention to how urban green areas and indoor plants had developed mainly to comfort people psychologically while studying for a BFA degree in London. Addressing questions like “Are they destined to be implanted in artificial spaces, be controlled in the basic activity of living, and cease to exist one by one?” his critical awareness of how people treat nature grew into the fundamental theme of his practice. His viewpoint is related to the philosophy of Deep ecology, which understands nature as a unified totality. Thus, through his extraordinary visual language, Hirako has consistently insisted that nature is an independent object that deserves respect and fair treatment rather than being a target to overcome or dominate. If straightforwardly accusing of the damages to the environment and suffering of plants and animals is one valid agenda of contemporary eco-activism, he can be a supporter who reveals his principles on this matter with his aesthetic value by taking the most advantage of art media in a postinstitutional and at the same time moderate manner.

The hybrid character, not only a central leitmotif but a basis of his work, appears frequently in his practice; moreover, other plant and animal figures including dogs and cats, nourish the complex narrative and construct the details of the entire storyline multi-faceted from his core theme. The introduction of auxiliary characters is one of the standard procedures found in a similar visual field—animation; because they are beneficial in delivering the context of scenes and reduce the possibility of monotonous plotlines that often occur in full-length films and series. His narrative setup, in which they are as well-protected as the main characters are, implies Hirako’s sympathy towards nature and animals. In addition, his wooden sculptures, taking a significant part of the exhibition, are achieved through many trial and experiment steps since building a large-scale colony came into his first plan; they confirm that the artist’s commitment to embodying what he has persistently observed from inherent aspects of organism has reached a more mature phase. Having their individualities in sizes and details, though they look alike at a glimpse as they share material properties, the sculptures simulate ‘the regional modification within an identical group,’ which is a signature phenomenon of nature as a system.

The exhibition title, New Home, is Hirako’s alternative answer about the ideal universe of the future that would fold later on, as suggested from the human point of view. The perpetual adoption of objects reminiscent of the past century, like a drum, an acoustic guitar, and a flashlight, reminds us of a time when we valued living in harmony with nature and growing and developing within limited resources, emphasizing the accordance with the periodicity of the earth. An evident tendency of the current world, where nature has become a target of extreme exploitation, is radical faith in scientific rationality and rhetoric. From this biased perspective, even if taking only the appearance of hybrid characters into account, the practice by Hirako seems surreal and uncanny enough. From such a point, ironically, Yuichi Hirako points out and re-enlightens us with a witty but sometimes stern voice that we are amid the present epoch when the history of tacit coexistence between nature and human beings maintained over numerous years is under-estimated as abnormal or regression.