Little information hangs around this artist with no about pages or anything to give us an indication of whom creates these weird and wonderful paintings. Perhaps that it is the way that Hattori prefers to work with the focus being solely directed on their work and not the creator.
The artists work is certainly eye-catching and has a very distinctive style, usually, we see the artist creating studies of natural forms; animals, humans and strange conglomerations of the two. However, these are not your photorealistic renditions of earth animals, they are warped and distorted whilst still retaining a wonderful sense of realism with spectacular attention to detail paid to the skin, fur or other body texture which gives these pieces of work a very tactile quality.
Eyes are a prevalent feature in all of Hattori’s work, they often sit at the very center of the painting and really draw the viewer into the canvas. The artists' attention to detail again shines through quite literally with this aspect of the paintings. A brilliant and complex understanding of 3D form is made obvious and the way that Hattori is able to capture the light playing off the glassy surface of the eyeball create the most fabulous visual effect. These are eyes that literally seem to stare into the viewers with the same soul and spark of life that we would find in a living creature.
I look at these fantastical creatures that the artist has created and seen a complex narrative playing out. In all we see not one single creature, some have more defined and recognizable anatomy, like a feline or a bird but they all contain elements of other beings within them which leads to the bizarre semi-understandable creatures. In many other paintings, we see that the creatures are not always covered in a singular fur or scale but have natural matter seemingly growing from the animal. We see mushrooms, ferns, roots, seeds and trees sprouting from the form and in particular works the natural forms become a part of the animal itself with mushrooms becoming woven into the fabric of the bestial form. Again the eyes hold more than the intricate detail that the painter captures but in all we see a reflection of a landscape, trees, and fields for the most part.
Humans and the human form appear more infrequently in the artists work to save for the young girl's face which seems to be a favorite of the artist. In these paintings, we have portrayed a vision of nubile beauty with delicate features and wonderfully measured expressions. Her face is always made from a kind of tapestry that has come together to form the face and we see it unraveling and fragmenting into exquisite shapes and forms. One is reminded of the likeness of the green man or portrayals of mother nature. A human form created from nature which is both delicate but also powerful, much the same as the feeling conveyed to the viewer by the girls face. Other images of humans raise different questions. Many of the human forms are not beautiful to behold but are far more reminiscent of works by the famous Hieronymus Bosch. They are twisted and warped into the most bizarre and unnatural forms much like the blasphemous creatures that Bosch depicts in his paintings of hell and the denizens that live within. A briefcase and suit under the title of ‘Brainwash’ does not take a great leap to see that the artist is producing this debauch image of man as a message of how they see modern pursuits, as something that alters the true nature of the human being.
Are these works a reflection on nature itself? A delicate and measured artist showing us beauty in the chaotic and surreal aspects of nature. The animals that Hattori depicts are all linked to nature and nature is a part of them, they may not look like the animals we see with our own eyes in the world but perhaps Hattori is conveying that there is simply more to see to that one organism. A comment on human nature as being that we are more removed from nature and becoming more ‘unnatural’ in the eyes of the artist, it would certainly seem to me to be the case. Having said this, the artists painting also bare some striking resemblance to paintings by Salvidor Dali the famous surrealist painter. Scenes of elongated animals and strange beings within a dreamlike landscape remind one of works such as ‘The Flames - They Call’ and his more well known ‘Elephants on Stilts’ so could Hattori’s work all be in the pursuit of the fantastical and a way of capturing the surreal in paint? I think that’s for the individual to decide for themselves and part of the beauty behind my first point in this article. With no information about the creator, the work itself must become the thing we seek knowledge from and I for one will be keeping an eye on the continued work of Naoto Hattori.
By: Thomas Jukes