Shohei Kondo (b.1986, Hyogo, Japan; lives and works in New York) creates conceptual paintings, drawings, installations, videos, and performances that embrace the complex relationship between humanity and technology through both an Eastern and Western perspective. In an often satirical approach, Kondo seeks to simplify the complexity of the digital world and our conceptions of death and sexuality. By avoiding the use of specific cultural signifiers, he explores what it truly means to be in between borders, and seeks to break through those borders through the universal language of visual art.
As a conceptual artist, Kondo's materials follow his ideas. He chooses to work with acrylic on canvas for the same reasons that pop artists of the 1950s and ‘60s chose acrylic on canvas; it is cheap, commercially available, and flat. More than that, the acrylic offers an inorganic plastic feel, while retaining organic brush strokes– rendering the symbolic intersection of tradition and technology in his work. Kondo, who studied meditation as a child, utilizes the evenness of marks and surface, the lack of shading and perspective, and the opacity and flatness of the material as a metaphor for the zen principle that all topics are equally important or equally meaningless. He has continued meditation throughout his life and explores the acceptance of one's imperfections and the pursuit of Zen through his artistic practice.
In his recent work, Kondo unabashedly explores erotica and sexuality. While the body and sexuality in America is a subject of oppression or taboo, Kondo adapt's the American body with its desire, portraying it through a liberating lens. His work incorporates the erotic symbols of oysters, women/man, and palm trees, subverting their original intent by illustrating them with even marks in the midst of a utopian flat color space, an emptiness that is a reminiscent of Zen thinking. Inspired by the strong feminist influence of his mother, he explores progressive feminist ideals by seaking to remove power from men.
Kondo's formal approach to painting is influenced by Pop Art and ninth century Japanese Rinpa painting. His mastery of the medium caught the eye of American artist Kaws, who hired Kondo as a studio painter. An MFA graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York, Kondo has exhibited at the Satellite Art Show, Miami, FL; the China Academy of Art CAA Museum, Hang Zhou, China; SVA Chelsea Gallery, New York, NY; Space Heater Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; among others. He lives and works in New York.