Over the Influence Hong Kong is pleased to present Can Pop Art Show the Way to Nirvana?, an exhibition of new paintings from Japanese artist Hikari Shimoda. This will be the artist's first solo exhibition in Hong Kong, and it will open on January 30, and remain on view through March 9, 2019. An opening reception for the artist will be held at the gallery (1/F, 159 Hollywood Road Central Hong Kong) on January 30, from 6 to 8pm.

Inspired by anime and Japanese manga, Shimoda's colorful, boldly graphic oil and mixed media paintings represent a synthesis of Pop and fine art as filtered through the lens of contemporary popular culture and society. Peopled by doe-eyed, childlike characters, Shimoda's mysteriously attractive world is irresistible, at once delightfully charming and disarming. Deeply influenced by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident in 2011, her brightly-colored, cartoon-like acrylic paintings are exuberantly endearing yet have the simultaneous effect of allaying suspicion.

In a chaotic world, these starry-eyed children with their vacant stares live in apparent solitude, looking lonely and despondent. Shimoda's mixed media paintings also suggest the potentiality of a glittering and sparkling alternate reality--a dying planet saved by an otherworldly, winsome cast of adorable and unlikely heroes. Anointed with magical superpowers, her fantastical girls, strange and lovable with their horns and wings, play the role of heroic saviors.

Shimoda shares, “We are living in a world of mass production and mass consumption. An idea of POP contains cuteness, but it often represents serious, dark, and deep issues as medium. Maybe POP in today’s world is wreck of people despairs. Despairs could be left in the past. Will power could be floated up out of the darkness”.

Expressing a welcoming, delightful innocence upon first glance, the viewer is then presented with deeply profound queries regarding the human condition. How to make sense of an unreasonable society? Is there hope to be found amidst hopelessness? Could death provide solace for a tortured soul, relief from a modern world in decline?

Depicting a world which merges fantasy and reality, past and future, death and life, Shimoda's works contain multitudes. Concurrently portraying lightness and darkness, hope and despair, her richly imaginative paintings are manifest of an artist's continual search for understanding and salvation in a world of uncertainty.

Sparkling and sweet, Hikari Shimoda’s work is at once enchanting and disarming, portraying a world where cuteness and horror coexist. Based in Nagano, Japan, Shimoda first studied illustration at the prestigious Kyoto Saga University of Art and Aoyama Juku School before beginning her career as a professional contemporary artist in 2008. Soon after, she was selected for her first solo exhibition at Motto Gallery in Tokyo and has since held exhibitions in galleries worldwide, including Japan, the United States, Canada, and Europe. In July 2018, the artist had her first museum show at Asahi Art Museum in Nagano, Japan.