Allie Volpie (Malibu Magazine) : Japanese culture is a strong influencer in your work. How do you put your own spin on it?
Hiro Ando : I do not think my case is isolated; many artists were influenced by the culture in which they built their artistic personality. I have matured in this culture and my references are therefore mostly from Japanese popular culture. For example, Warhol uses the codes of American ’60s consumerism, contemporary Chinese reference the icons and the semantics of the Chinese Revolution, and I mainly use references to the Japanese urban culture.
A V : How important is maintaining some sense of tradition?
H A : We cannot grow and advance without knowing from where one comes. In the same way we must know where we’re going is to be able to live in the present. The present is the clash between the past and the future of an individual in the same way the artistic creation of a work is the synthesis between the origins and the future of an artist.
A V : Explain why you decided to create your sculptures in the shape of cats. Why create recurring characters such as “Sumocat,” “Big Samurai,” and “Robocat”?
H A : I’ve always seen felines as the samurai warriors of our tradition. I’m not talking about reincarnation but similarities. They share the same elegance, the same strength, the same power discrete, the same attitudes.
A V :What was the inspiration behind Battle Royale? What’s the significance of Batoru Rowaiaru to you?
H A : It is a novel that I have read and reread, fantasized and imagined; it’s a movie that I have seen and reviewed. The manga highlights the gore and sex; the film focuses on free and brutal violence. The violence is part of this world, and what is interesting is to see that juvenile violence in the faces of these schoolgirls.
A V : These sculptures don’t have the certain kind of whimsy as the cats did. Why go in that direction?
H A : Always confrontation between past and future. The fantasy of the present world and the seriousness of past traditions. The austere attitude of these schoolgirls— aces of angels but katana in hand—is why we used different materials, lacquered and colored resin, an icy metal for others.