Among the many artists working in contemporary art who have found freedom of expression and creativity through skateboarding, Tokyo-based artist and sculptor Haroshi has emerged in recent years as one of the most conceptually unique voices. Famous for recycled skateboard sculptures, he repurposes decks as unique wood works or even, as recently evidenced in his masterwork shown at Deitch, into a massive “canvas” of old, used and worn wooden decks. His love of skateboarding propels his art life, and his newest exhibition at NANZUKA 2G in Tokyo is an intimate, cultural ode to skateboarding as a statement of physical prowess, as well as a keen process of urban observation.

HAROSHI FREE HYDRANT CO, featuring photography and bronze works, literally looks at the traditional Japanese fire hydrant as a classic “symbol” of experimentation for a skateboarder. The act of jumping over the hydrant, the “ollie,” is such a procedural and practiced gesture of skateboarding, hypnotic in its sequenced velocity, and acknowledged as the essential skate trick. Haroshi has recalled in past interviews that when he first traveled to the United States over two decades ago, he “had been engrossed in jumping over fire hydrants.” He remembers police officers cheering him on from their car, as they watched him perform his tricks.” We almost feel the need to fact check the cheering, but you get the point. The fire hydrant is special to the artist.

Haroshi Hydrant2G 01

“I visited various cities around the world,” Harosh says. “In pretty much any city, I came across fire hydrants. Whether they were old, rusty, covered in graffiti, or shiny and brand new, they were all different and attractive in their own way. One day however, I suddenly thought to myself, that while fire hydrants are always watching over us from street corners, they are indeed unable to go anywhere. I even felt a sense of pity for them, as they almost appeared to me as if both their arms were bound in chains. I thought that someday if I were to make a fire hydrant, I would make one that would be free to go anywhere in the world.”

HAROSHI FREE HYDRANT CO epitomizes the artist’s dedication to skating by positioning  the deck in the pantheon of fine art. It’s an honest love that he has been able to transform into a fascinating and singular art career. His newest expression. “FREE HYDRANT CO was conceived in an effort to release hydrants from their fire extinguishing duties, and provide them with free rights,” Haroshi says. “I am excited to see where they will go from here, and what kind of lives they will lead.” —Evan Pricco

Haroshi will also have work on view at NANZUKA's 3110NZ by LDH Kitchen space from August 25—September 20, 2020.