Yuichi Hirako

May 21 (Sat) - Jun 25 (Sat), 2022


KOTARO NUKAGA, Roppongi is pleased to present ‘FOOTPRINTS,’ a solo exhibition by Yuichi Hirako from May 21 (Sat) to June 25 (Sat). The exhibition title is inspired by the countless footprints made by people gathering around nature, evoking a collective of some kind. In this show, Hirako will create a series of installations in which variations of his signature motif assemble in a group.

Since modern times, we humans have created value for ourselves by altering the world around us. We currently live in the Anthropocene, an era in which human activity has started to significantly impact geological and ecological systems. Humans once faced nature with reverence, yet this relationship has now drastically changed. Even the breathtaking landscapes we call “pristine nature” are no longer safe from the impending effects of humankind.

We would like to take a closer look at the themes of this exhibition by introducing the following text written by Yoshitsugu Mohri, Deputy Director of the Nerima Art Museum.

It is difficult to talk about “  ”. When I went to visit Hirako-san’s studio in Kamishakujii for the first time, I came across a strawberry vendor from JA (Japan Agricultural Co-op) on the street out front. I bought some strawberries as a gift before I went inside—there, I was greeted by Hirako-san and many “  ”. Although Hirako-san and I differ somewhat in age, he is from Okayama while I also grew up in the Setouchi region. As we spoke in his studio, it became clear that we share similar childhood experiences with nature. We both used to play in the hills behind our houses when we were kids, picking plants, like tangerines and horsetails, at will. However, it seems that words such as nature, flower, grass, sky, moon, road, wall, house, and song can have entirely different meanings depending on the speaker’s origin, experiences, and environment. In art, there exist various relationships between humans and nature that present nature as something more than an aesthetically beautiful subject. For example, Tetsumi Kudo used plants to represent human wounds in his Fossil in Hiroshima series. Tadayoshi Nakabayashi—inspired by the words “Nothing can escape from decay”—preserved delicate traces of plants through intaglio prints. Shinro Ohtake engages in a continuous struggle against plants with his site-specific installation on Megi Island, MECON. The “  ” dwell somewhere right in the middle, between the human and natural realms, and seem to guide us towards another place beyond the physical world. The “  ” as animals and the “  ” alongside cats. Hirako-san showed me some paintings he was working on at his studio near Kamishakujii station. The “  ” were proliferating. There will probably be even more of them in his next exhibition. Groups embody the very essence of humanity. It seems the “  ” in Europe are so terribly confused, but in Japan, there is the saying: “  ”. Hirako-san is likely fighting in the midst of all of this.

Mohri refers to Hirako’s subject as “  ” instead of a specific name; one may interpret this as a message to all those who come face-to-face with nature. As Mohri indicates in his text, words like “nature” (as well as flower, grass, sky, moon, road, wall, house, and song) can mean completely different things depending on the speaker’s own background. While studying abroad in London, Hirako felt his relationship with nature was distorted by such differences, which in turn inspired him to create the “  ”. Therefore, nature as a concept does not exist a priori, or prior to human conception; rather, it emerges a posteriori, or afterwards based on lived experiences. In this sense, nature can be described as a subjective concept—or quale—that depends on an individual’s perceptions. Hence, when we say “nature is ____,” the “____” is not something we all have in common. We do not actually share a universal meaning of the word “nature.” Semiotically speaking, we only share the signifier “nature,” whereas we do not share the signified, or what the word truly means. Mohri uses “  ” to represent this phenomenon. In other words, he invites each individual viewer to come up with their own alternative for “  ”.


The inexplicable state of global society over the past few years has brought us to the sinking realization that we may not have understood the world as well as we thought. While the absence of people has brought back clear skies, nature is also left less protected due to a decrease in tourism revenue. Does “pristine nature” really exist? When numerous people finally share a common understanding of nature and its meanings, where will those thoughts lead?

The “  ” was born from Hirako’s ruminations on nature—specifically, the discomfort he felt towards the interpretations of nature he came across in London. “  ” exists in the exhibition space as well, but much like nature, its meaning will reveal itself within each viewer a posteriori. In ‘FOOTPRINTS,’ Hirako will present a variety of “  ”. We invite you to experience them all.






May 21 (Sat) - Jun 25 (Sat), 2022 11:00-18:00 (Tue - Sat) Opening Reception: May 14 (Sat), 2022, 16:00 - 18:00 *Closed on Sun, Mon and Public Holidays *Schedule and contents are subject to change at the request of the national and local governments.


Guidelines for visitors

At KOTARO NUKAGA, we will be implementing the following measures to ensure the safety of visitors. Please review our guidelines before your visit. As a precautionary measure to help contain the further spread of COVID-19, we have set the following guidelines. Visitor Safety All visitors are required to wear a mask and sanitize your hands at the entrance. Please refrain from visiting the gallery if you are experiencing the following symptoms: – Cold/Flu-like symptoms – Fever (over 37.1 C/99.1 F) – Fatigue, shortness of breath, etc. Staff Safety At KOTARO NUKAGA we will take the following measures: – Install hand sanitizers in easily accessible locations – Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfection of high touch points including doorknobs, elevator bottons, etc. – Limit the number of visitors – All the gallery members will wear a mask, regularly sanitize hands, measurement of body temperature Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.