Spotlight: Japanese Artist Hiromitsu Kuroo Taps Into Origami Traditions With His Unique ‘Folded’ Paintings

The artist's solo 'Hope Brew' is presented by Morton Fine Art in Washington, D.C.

Hiromitsu Kuroo, Bleach E (2024). Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art, Washington, D.C.

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What You Need to Know: Morton Fine Art, Washington, D.C., presents Hiromitsu Kuroo’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, “Hope Brew.” On view through May 23, 2024, the show features a dynamic range of new works from the artist’s “Bleach Painting” series, which he first developed in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The works convey a pervasive sense of personal and societal unease and tumult. Incorporating linen canvas and employing a bleach-based collage technique, Kuroo uses everyday objects as a starting point to create his enigmatic compositions. Another great source of inspiration for this body of work comes from the longevity and artistry of Native American murals he saw in the Western United States.

Bleach painting by Hiromitsu Kuroo in beiges and creams with lines that overlap within rectangles that have been folded into the linen canvas.

Hiromitsu Kuroo, Carbonara (2022). Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art, Washington, D.C.

About the Artist: Originally from Yokohama, Japanese artist Hiromitsu Kuroo is a collage painter who taps the tradition of origami in his canvas-based works that toe the line between representational and abstraction. Kuro, who is currently based between Japan and New York, studied at the Tohoku University of Art and Design, where he received both his bachelors and masters. In both 2010 and 2019, he was awarded Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grants, and in 2022 was awarded an Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Grant—the same year in which he joined the roster of Morton Fine Art. Explaining his singular bleach painting process Kuroo said, “I make the works primarily with bleach, using as little paint as possible. The ability to create beauty out of limited expression is a characteristic of Japanese culture expressed through many art forms, and as a painter working in the manner of the origami tradition of paper folding, I wanted to carry that feature into my practice.”

Hiromitsu Kuroo, Bleach D (2023). Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art, Washington, D.C.

Why We Like It: Kuroo’s paintings defy easy categorization, as they are not bounded by the traditional imperatives of the medium such as the flatness of the canvas or traditional ideas around space and perspective. The artist’s technique of folding and manipulating the canvas, as well as cutting and layering it three dimensionally, lends each work a texture that is both literal and perspectival. Engaging with traditional origami techniques, as well as contemporary modes of abstraction, Kuroo is able to mine great spectrums of light and shadow, as well as leverage the expressive qualities of color. Each composition invites, if not compels, careful looking, as the myriad details harmonize together to create a cohesive overall composition.

Works by Hiromitsu Kuroo installed inside of Morton Fine Art exhibition space.

Installation view of “Hiromitsu Kuroo: Hope Brew” (2024). Photo: Jarrett Hendrix. Courtesy of Morton Fine Art, Washington, D.C.

Hiromitsu Kuroo: Hope Brew” is on view at Morton Fine Art, Washington, D.C., through May 23, 2024.

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