Hirotoshi Ito’s family has been involved with stone work since 1879. Ito grew up determined to eventually take over the family business. Ito studied at the Metal Work Department of Tokyo University of the Arts and was fascinated by the works of the school’s artists. Over the next couple of years, this became the foundation for his way of thinking and his creativity.
Ito’s work can be divided into two distinct groups. One group is solid sculpture carved from stone where Ito alters the stone’s natural surface and forms sculptural forms. The other group is made from beach and river rocks where Ito uses the natural forms to alter and add, giving the stones different characteristics.
The stones that Ito finds come from a riverbed in his own neighborhood. As Ito’s fame grew, he stayed committed to helping his hometown get proper exposure. It helps that Ito has remained extremely active promoting the contemporary craft traditions of the Nagano area for the past twenty years.
Years ago, Ito and his friends initiated a grass roots project which has grown into an annual craft festival in Matsumoto City, his hometown. Currently, Ito serves as President for the festival… which isn’t quite so small anymore!
“Little Bang II.”
Image courtesy of: Paris Art Web
The area where Ito lives, Matsumoto City, is surrounded by beautiful mountains and rivers. The stones that Ito finds in the riverbeds come from the mountains, and have been washed and rewashed by fresh streams of water for many years. As a result, each stone has its own organic form.
Ito lets his imagination lead as he gathers stones on the riverbeds; he imagines what he can do with the rocks and the stories that they will represent. It is clear from what Ito produces that he has a very active and vivid imagination!
A velvet-lined coin purse.
Image courtesy of: deMilked
There is an important aspect of Japanese culture that is known as Mitate. This concept is all about creating new values by taking something that holds a certain significance and seeing it from a different perspective.
When Ito takes the unpolished rocks and delicately carves away sections to make a velvet-lined coin purse or a zippered-mouth which has an entire world going on inside them, the juxtaposition of the original matter and the new creation is often light-hearted and completely unique.
Ito says, “Although I work with various kinds of stones, most of my work consists of optimizing a stone’s original shape…A smile on the beholder’s face is the main motivation for my work.” It is obvious that Ito was influenced by the world’s great Surrealist artists such as Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte. With rocks and stones as his canvas, the future is bright for this innovative carver!