Efrain Vivas Hattori Paints Blueprints From Another Dimension

This Venezuelan-Japanese artist creates urbanism that does not yet exist but that he makes us envision.
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Efrain at his exhibition ‘Luz’ at Block House Gallery, Harajuku, Tokyo. Photo: Noa.

Efrain’s work condenses a way of seeing and reimagining the geometry of the city. Or rather, of cities in the plural. Three cities on three different continents, as remote and disparate as Tokyo, Caracas and Amsterdam. These cities have marked his life and artistic career.

This 30-year-old artist pays attention to the big, in the buildings and urban structures, but also to the small, in the materials with which everything is built and that many times end up being waste that the city rejects.

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Efrain uses many different techniques and materials at the same painting. Photo: Efrain Vivas Hattori.

In his works we see architecture, we see the city, but it does not resemble any of the ones we know. Efrain creates the blueprints for a kind of urbanism that does not yet exist but that he helps us envision.

After having his work exhibited at Anagra and Salt and Pepper galleries in Tokyo, his third solo exhibition in the city is called “Light” and is taking place at the Block House gallery in Harajuku. I went to see the exhibition with him and posed him these questions.

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One of Efrain’s paintings exhibited last year at Salt and Pepper gallery, Shibuya, Tokyo. Photo: Efrain Vivas Hattori.

Chorareii: You are a truly international artist. Your roots are in Venezuela and Japan, and although you now reside in Tokyo, you normally live in Amsterdam. How have these three places been a part of your life?

I was born in Tokyo, as a child, I lived in Caracas and returned to Japan when I was thirteen years old. At 25, I started to feel uncomfortable living in Tokyo. Somehow, I knew that if I stayed in Tokyo my career as an artist was going to be easier, I was not going to learn or improve enough. So I decided to go to Amsterdam.

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One corner of ‘Luz’ exhibition at Block House, Harajuku, Tokyo. Photo: Noa.

Your visual works have a lot to do with architecture, in the forms and in the materials. What does architecture mean to you?

Architecture is part of me because my father was an architect. As a child, I would go to my father’s office and start drawing there until my father finished work. That time is a great memory and a great inspiration. I still have it in me, this is something they don’t teach you in art school. That is why I really like to observe buildings and look at the materials that are in the street.

Precisely in your works, you use a wide variety of materials, in fact, some are typical of construction. How do you choose them and what do they bring you on a creative level?

When I moved to Amsterdam, I started helping a friend of mine who is a carpenter with work. He gave me many materials that were left over in his workshop, wall paint, brushes … I started to make my works with these materials.

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Detail from one of Efrain’s installations at ‘Luz’ exhibition. Photo: Noa.

Most of your works are paintings, but occasionally you also make sculptures and installations. What does each of these artistic media mean to you?

I started painting pictures because I had always drawn, so I realized that I had to take that step. The sculpture and installations came later when I was already living in Amsterdam. I went on a trip to Paris and visited the Center Pompidou, where they were showing an exhibition by Cy Twombly. From that exhibition, I learned a lot about how to be free in creation.

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Some of the works exhibited at Block House. Photo: Noa.

In addition to being a visual artist, under the Waxsio brand you have your own clothing line, and this is also your alias as a DJ. What is your vision of fashion and music?

Under my brand Waxsio I do prints on clothes. I use my drawings, the ones I make on paper. It all came about because I didn’t want to stay without doing anything with my drawings, that’s why I started the brand.

As for music, I listen to music constantly. In Tokyo, I go to a lot of parties and in Amsterdam even more. I also like to collect music, and that’s why one day they asked me if I wanted to DJ, so I started doing it.

You’ve started tattooing lately. What made you do it?

A year ago, in Amsterdam, I met the tattoo artist Daddy Hands and I also noticed the German tattoo artist Skkinz. Seeing their tattoo style made me want to try it myself.

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Efrain’s previous exhibition at Salt and Pepper Gallery in 2020, Tokio. Photo: Efrain Vivias Hattori.

Tell me about “Luz”, your recent exhibition at the Block House gallery in Harajuku.

The works on display are about light and shadow. I always pay attention to that contrast. This could also be an inspiration from my father, who besides being an architect is a photographer, he takes black and white photographs. I went millions of times to take pictures with him and grew up seeing his photos.

Visit ‘Luz’ on the 4th floor of Block House Gallery. Photo: Noa.

Efrain Vivas Hattori’s “Luz” exhibition is open from March 18 to April 18, 2021 at Block House Gallery in Harajuku, Tokyo.

More works and information from Efrain Vivas on his website.

Follow Efrain Vivas Hattori (@efrain_vivas_hattori) on Instagram and also his artistic collective @ugoku_estudio.

You can buy his brand’s Waxsio clothes at the Salt And Pepper gallery in Shibuya, Tokyo, and follow @waxsio on Instagram.

Proofreading: Jasmina Mitrovic (@negi_hime).

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