Hiroki Niimi (Artist)
Born in 1980. After training at a Kenninji school specialty dojo, he was in charge of Zazen instruction at Ryosokuin for 15 years. Centering on contemporary art, he continues to attempt to transcend boundaries and connect with tradition.
Using the power of design to make the world a better place.
Hiroki Niimi, who had been actively working in the advertising industry as an art director, took a complete turn and started his career as a painter. When asked about the period when he began to learn "drawing," which can be considered the identity of his artwork and his transition into the advertising industry, Niimi reflects:
"At the time, I was studying architecture in university, so I knew nothing about advertising. However, I was deeply interested in graphic design, so I started calling design agencies listed in magazines, despite having no experience, asking them if they could give me a job so that I could learn design. One of those companies showed interest and gave me a job designing for job listings. While working on numerous projects, I re-enrolled in Tama Art University and fully immersed myself in the world of design."
Discomfort with being consumed.
During the process of working on various advertising projects, Hiroki Niimi gradually began to feel a sense of unease.
"As I became involved in advertising production, I started to sense that the creatives we, as creators, produced were being consumed. The field of advertising operates at an incredibly fast pace. Countless proposals and ideas are generated, only to be discarded before an advertisement takes shape. Even after the production and public release, advertisements rapidly circulate and are soon forgotten. The industry is also heavily influenced by politics, and I began to feel suffocated by the demands of working as an advertising creator. Above all, I realized that I wasn't feeling the excitement I once had for the work I initially loved. This realization led to a strong sense of frustration within myself. Amidst such days, a growing sense of urgency emerged, reminding me that I mustn't stop creating. After finishing work, I started visiting a small rental space and began creating various artworks, including paintings and sculptures."
“I continued creating artwork passionately, immersing myself day and night, following my own impulses. While channeling the frustrations I experienced in daily life into my artwork, I created various types of pieces. As I accumulated a substantial body of work, I had the opportunity to exhibit at a gallery and hold a solo exhibition. At that time, I had been secluded in my studio for a long time, and I felt the desire to reconnect with friends through the exhibition. Although that was my main motivation, I was incredibly happy to be able to express my pent-up emotions and have someone see them in tangible form. In that exhibition, I experienced a sense of freedom that I hadn't felt in the world of advertising before, and it became the catalyst for me to begin creating my own artwork in a more serious manner.”
Reconstruction of forgotten creatives.
Mr. Niimi talks about his activities as an artist who creates works with creative motifs discarded on the Internet as follows.
“The backbone of my artwork strongly lies in the realm of advertising. Through my work, I explore a resistance and antithesis to the excessive production and consumption prevalent in the advertising industry. The overarching theme throughout my work is to reconstruct discarded creativity into something that endures. I collect motifs from forgotten elements of society, such as snippets of abandoned banner images on the web or old comics, and layer them using illustration software. These layered compositions are then outputted through silk-screen printing and painted upon. Sometimes, I even scrape the surface of a previously painted canvas to bring out unique textures. My emphasis on the material's texture stems from my background in studying architecture during my student days. Even within the realm of similar artwork, I continuously discover new details, ideas for expression, and incorporate fresh imagery. The process of deepening my own style while incorporating new visions is highly stimulating.”
A plate for projecting the created graphics onto the canvas.
We asked Mr. Niimi about the origin of his insistence on consistent design.
“I have always loved seeing someone moved by something I create. It started with small things like setting up a stall and selling rice cakes at local festivals or winning art awards in school competitions. In those seemingly insignificant moments, my passion for creating gradually took shape. I also believe my older sister had a significant influence on me. She studied photography at the Department of Fine Arts at Nihon University, and through her connections, we often had friends involved in art and design visiting our home. Some of them, like the members of "cero" (a Tokyo-based pop band formed in 2004), who are now very famous, were incredibly creative individuals. Meeting them during my impressionable years was a valuable experience. Growing up in such an environment naturally led me to develop a desire to create something of my own.”
More distant view.
This year, Mr. Niimi plans to exhibit several times overseas, including in South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan. Where is he aiming now as he energetically takes on new challenges as a painter?
“I already have several exhibitions scheduled, and I'm currently in the midst of preparing for expanding my presence overseas. In the art world, being Japanese can be a disadvantage at times. Therefore, I'm constantly exploring the connection between my strengths as a Japanese artist, the global trends, and my personal philosophy. My aim is to achieve larger-scale expressions. One of my current goals as an artist is to exhibit at "Dia:Beacon," a museum in New York that had a profound impact on me and where I experienced the beauty of art firsthand. "Excitement and anticipation" is the theme I set for my life when I was a university student. While cherishing experiences that move my own heart, I want to challenge myself on a global scale."
"Exciting" That is the theme of my life.