Born in Hiroshima, Japan, Zero Higashida graduated from the Nihon University College of Art in 1984 and later the Tokyo University of Music and Fine Art in 1986. He attended the Studio School of New York in 1988, and received the Hiroshima Scholarship shortly thereafter in 1992. His mother having survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Higashida makes a point of addressing the catastrophe as an event that has indelibly altered the course of human history. Higashida’s simple forms, both rough and gestural, suggest the massive and the infinitesimal at the same time. They reflect at once the beauty, elegance, and harmony of balance, and the suspension of the atom and its relation to the universe. Utilizing steel, stainless steel, stones, and pieces of wood indigenous to Hiroshima, his surfaces ache with ragged edges, and suture-like wounds slice the planes. Favoring a state of precarious equilibrium, he tends to balance his forms on beveled edges and sharp points. Although haunted by the spectre of the atomic bomb, Higashida’s art also embodies, according to art critic Gerard Haggerty, the Japanese notion of chiritori: the planet’s power to heal and restore itself; as well as iconographic suggestions of important and influential individuals in the arts.
“Art can heal and has been healing history. People are able to link heaven and the real world by training their imagination. I would say that an artist is someone who conveys a spiritual message to the real world.”
—"Zero Higashida: The Weight of Memory,” Sculpture, April 2005, p. 49
Striking in its metallic brilliance and molten form, Sinjin is one of Zero Higashida’s most desirable works. Its title, spiritual in that it represents a phoneticized translation of the Japanese for “St. John,” is typical of Higashida’s nomenclature; he often invents titles that are abstract composites of powerful content, be that sacred or secular. Sinjin is part of Higashida’s Messaiah series—another word coined by the artist, comprised of ‘message’ and ‘messiah’—that is explicitly religious in nature, aimed at expressing Higashida’s ultimate hope for world peace. Higashida’s employment of deliberately obscure titles allows him to risk creating the abhorrent object, the sculpture whose truth is so real that it incorporates the violence of its making as a major stylistic attribute. In that sense, he constructs within each work a microcosmos of vulnerability. Sinjin served as the focal point of Higashida’s 2010 solo exhibition Culture & Peace at the Kouros Gallery, a show whose content directly addressed the horror of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in recognition of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) of 2010. In conjunction with its otherworldly form, Sinjin suggests the meeting of the mundane and the supernatural; the revered and the horrified; the alien and the familiar.
Kouros Gallery, Ridgefield, CT
Zero Higashida: Culture & Peace, Kouros Gallery, 9 June-2 July 2010
“Zero Higashida: The Weight of Memory,” Sculpture, April 2005 edition, Vol. 24 No. 3, p. 46