Skate or Die: Beautifully Morbid Sculptures Crafted from Recycled Boards

Artist Haroshi creates colorful sculptures from discarded and broken skateboards.

Skateboarding culture has a long history of intersecting with the art world. Artist Haroshi excels at this crossover, creating colorful sculptures from discarded and broken skateboards collected from friends, his own use, and skate shops. In a new exhibition, on view at Jonathan Levine Gallery until February 9, Haroshi presents his latest creations, all crafted from layers of recycled skateboards.

To make his meticulous sculptures, the artist uses the "mosaic method," a process similar to how the majority of Buddha statues are made in Japan. Taking a stack of decks that have been glued together, Haroshi carves forms into the block of wood, just as if he were making a Buddha. When using this already colorful block of boards, it gives the effect of a hard edge painting, without any pigment ever applied. And just like Buddha statues, which often have a small item hidden inside, invisible to the naked eye, Haroshi buries a piece of cherished detritus in his sculptures. In this way, they take on a new life, with a "soul," just like a wooden bodhisattva.

A self-taught artist, Haroshi has been making his three dimensional work for over 10 years. Hailing from Japan, as a teenager he began skating and pored over skate videos from the U.S., like an early Plan B film, for which the title of the exhibition, Virtual Reality, pays homage to.

Still skating today, Haroshi has an allegiance to his materials, often using every part of the board—wheels, grip tape and all—in creating his objects. Though at times playful, his forms—severed legs, bullets, a devils head, and skulls—are more often on the morbid side. In this way, Haroshi gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "skate or die."

Images courtesy of Jonathan Levine Gallery

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