Hiro Yokose was born in Nagasaki, Japan and lived and worked in Manhattan until 2017 when he relocated back to Japan. His sensual paintings depict images of nature composed using a subtle palette. Playing with the viewer’s perceptions, Yokose’s work creates a visual experience of recognition and mystery. Yokose’s unusual technique involves layering oil paint and beeswax on the canvas surface, creating a dream-shrouded vista. In this way, his work hovers between a Zen-like minimalist abstraction and a traditional landscape. An incredibly private person, Yokose retreats to his imagination and depicts the world as he wishes to see it.
Low horizon lines separating sea from sky, and the occasional stand of trees allow these images to be read as landscapes, but it is the light that seems to emanate from behind his final coat of beeswax, as well as the lush surfaces created by this material that is the real subject of these paintings. Yokose’s use of color, from its near absence in some works, to the improbably bold blooms in others, is one of the unique qualities that separate his paintings from other works in this genre.
Though there is a faint connection to the Asian landscape tradition in the inky suggestion of distant mountain ranges and the shapes of Yokose’s trees, these “landscapes” are entirely the escapist fantasy of the artist. Regardless of whether he loads up his canvas with details or paints a single wave, it is the final rich but distancing layer of beeswax that makes his works pull so strongly towards abstraction. And yet, Yokose allows the viewer to participate in his romantic vision, imagining themselves amidst rolling ocean waves and swaying trees. Yokose has this to say about his process: “Through meditation and the haphazard laying down of paint on canvas, I begin to discover my scene. When I have found the place where I want to be, the painting is done.”
Hiro Yokose uses a subtle palette and technique that involves building up delicate, translucent layers of oil paint to create ambiguous, watery horizon lines with soft, tree-lined imagery. Buttery yellows, pale oranges and misty blues create an ethereal glow emanating from the center of each painting. Yokose’s landscapes give the impression of peering into a dream-shrouded vista, simultaneously provoking a sense of recognition and mystery.