A group of seven cryptic abstract sculptures make up “To be like that which you have,” the latest collaboration by artists Jason Hirata and Sol Hashemi, currently on view at Greg Kucera Gallery. Pieces of lumber, some raw, some painted white, are balanced at odd angles, held together under tension by bungee cords, rubber tie-downs and movers’ straps. Posed on the gallery’s sculpture deck, an outdoor room of low rusted steel walls overlooking sunken railroad tracks, these works look like artifacts of the surrounding industrial urban environment. As a group, they are visually cohesive and succinct, spontaneous yet tight. But Hirata and Hashemi are known for art that is highly conceptual and process-oriented, so one suspects that these seven sculptures represent only the surface of this body of work.
Hirata and Hashemi began working together while students at the University of Washington. Less than a year after graduation, they have gained attention for installations that are interactive environments for performance, drawing, sculpture, photography and video. Their show last spring at Punch Gallery was a conventional art exhibition by day. At night, the artists turned on a machine that filled the space with fog while they made new artwork and slept in the gallery. Last summer they turned a backyard shed into a sculptural environment of construction materials, recorded music, and fluorescent lights, that could only be visited by appointment.
Of course the shed belonged to Henry Gallery communications director Betsey Brock and Western Bridge gallery director Eric Fredericksen. Hirata and Hashemi were anointed “a force of smart newness in Seattle art” by the Stranger publication.
In February, the artists will temporarily part ways to present solo shows in separate venues. Hirata will pursue a medium he invented, “sweat drawing,” in which he undertakes a strenuous activity, then mixes his own sweat with pigment and draws with it. The drawings are typically geometric abstractions, formal and pleasant to look at, their creative process invisible to the casual viewer. For his exhibition at the James Harris Gallery, Hirata and Harris will work up a sweat together, perhaps running or playing squash. Hirata will photograph their athletic efforts and make a set of drawings from the sweat of each man. The two sets of drawings will be presented together, posing the question of which collectors value more, the artist or the gallery owner.
“To be like that which you have” sculpture installation at Greg Kucera Gallery through February 13. (206) 624-0770.www.gregkucera.com. Jason Hirata’s solo show at James Harris Gallery, February 25 – March 27, 206-903-6220.