Who doesn’t know Hikaru? Dido Haas asks in reference to Hikaru Enimo in her introduction to the October art exhibition at her Nitroglobus Roof Gallery in Second Life. Well, to my embarrassment, I have to hold a hand up and say “me”; for despite Hikaru being a photographer, blogger, event organiser and Editor-in-Chief of L’Homme Magazine SL, I have not had a prior opportunity to view his work. Thus My Reflection, as his exhibition at Nitroglobus is titled, has been an opportunity for me to become better acquainted with, if not the man, then at least his work.
This is something of a person exhibition of pieces for Hikaru, as again the liner notes make clear. Each piece is intentionally designed to offer insight into the moods and emotions the artist was feeling during its composition of each shot, rather than just trying to evoke a mood or response in the viewer of his work. The result is a baker’s dozen of fabulously monochrome pieces that are presented in the large format that marks exhibitions at Nitroglobus, all focused on Hikaru’s avatar (joined in places by his dog), that are deeply expressive, and in which pose, tone, lighting and setting have been carefully crafted to as much give insight into the artist’s mindset as much as any facial expression.
Indeed, given that many of the images offered – in difference to Hikaru’s own comments on his use of his avatar’s gaze – eyes and face are not visible, the depth of feeling that is conveyed in some of these pieces just through pose completely captivates. Just take My Reflection 07, My Reflection 09 and My Reflection 10, for example, all of which contain a sense of listlessness borne of solitude and / or boredom. Similarly, Reflection 12 is a completely stunning narrative of mood in which, while it partially reveals a downcast face, the statement come no closer is perfectly portrayed through the placement of the stripped bars across the doorway before Hikaru’s avatar; so much so, I would suggest, that even whilst rendered in monochrome, bars mentally convey the idea they are in fact stripped yellow-and-black in that familiar warning do not cross.
Where his avatar’s face is visible, the conveyance of mood / feelings is more directly pronounced, but not less marvellously framed. My Reflection 11 and My Reflection 04 (which I would not is definitely NSFW when viewing!) for example, utilise the placement of a hand over or before the face to charge each piece with its emotional content, the use of splayed or crooked fingers speaking volumes as to the thoughts that lie behind the avatar’s eyes even as those eyes remain hidden by lowered lids. Similarly, and alongside of it, the curl of cigarette smoke rising beside the steady gaze of Hikaru’s avatar in Reflection 01 draws us into his eyes and the sense of mood within them. And then there is My Reflection 14, where pose, directed gaze and the presence of a window (or door) frame between us and the avatar offers an entire story.
And it is in the idea of contained narrative that Reflections further unfolds before us. For while these are images intended to reflect Hikaru’s own moods, thoughts, feelings – and yes, his vitality – at the time of their creation, such is their depth and composition, we cannot help be see each as part of a larger canvas. Each image invites us in to it, awakening our imaginations to weave stories that can fill the rest of that unseen canvas. Stories in which our own role might also be defined: are we merely a observer of a moment in Hikaru’s life, or are we an invisible participant – lover, partner, friend, passer-by – looking upon someone we care for, like or just happen to see – or who has caught us unexpectedly within his gaze?
Evocative, rich, personal, emotive and a tour de force of an artist’s talent for expression and story-telling, My Reflection is both a superb introduction to Hikaru’s work for those who like myself have not been fortunate enough to encounter it previously, and as a richly layered series of images that superbly straddle the line of “personal” and “public” in their conveyance of mood and narrative respectively.
- Nitroglobus Roof Gallery (Sunshine Homestead, rated: Moderate)