A Day in The Woods: Joakim Ojanen heads to AishoNanzuka’s Hong Kong Space
Given the state of the world, it's time for a Day in The Woods, presented by AishoNanzuka Gallery, Joakim Ojanen’s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong. Opening February 15th, the exhibition comprises ceramic installations, new wooden sculptures, paintings and drawings, all starring the Swedish artist's family of quirky characters developed from memories and experiences.
"A lot of Swedish people have told me for years that if I ever show in Asia, people are gonna love my works. I don't know if that says more about the visual culture in Asia or the visual culture in Sweden," Ojanen told Juxtapoz about his Hong Kong debut. His whimsical characters, drawn from his home country and fondness for comic books, are "seven and thirty-years-old at the same time." Vulnerable and naïve, they react to emotions and events, tugging emotions with exaggerated, funny features. Whether working with charcoal on paper, oils on canvas or sculpting ceramics, Ojanen wraps each character in raw textures celebrating uniqueness as he practices a hands-on approach to art-making.
In some ways, this is a different path than his neighboring artists who typically favor clean, cartoon-like visuals, often referencing modern-day technology. With vibrant colors and a joyful narrative, Ojanen shows the truth in simplicity, where common, everyday imagery offers relatable reflection. In terms of correlating two colleges, the artist explains, "This whole exhibition was made in my studio in Stockholm, before I ever visited Hong Kong. So the show was created more from my inner self. Maybe, my next exhibition will be more influenced than this one since Hong Kong will be part of my memory when I start making work for it."
A Day in The Woods marks the premiere of Ojanen's wooden sculptures, as well as the release of a new limited edition produced in collaboration with the gallery. "Working with new material is my favorite hobby. Wood is one of those materials I always knew I needed to try! This was the first attempt and close collaboration with AishoNanzuka and the factory where they were making it. I have been working really hard on the model to make it suit the material, looking at different types of wood and how to paint it or not paint it. I think the result is very intriguing and it's definitely something I will do more of." The exhibition was intended to be on view through March 14, when the gallery planned Hajime Sorayama's solo show during Art Basel week, which was canceled due to the coronavirus. We'll keep a close eye following developments and keep you posted. –Sasha Bogojev