Artists Habitat

Habitat: Mika Horibuchi

Mika Horibuchi photographed in her studio on January 25, 2016. ©KATHERINE MCMAHON

Mika Horibuchi photographed in her studio on January 25, 2016.


Habitat is a weekly series that visits with artists in their workspaces.

This week’s studio: Mika Horibuchi; Ukrainian Village, Chicago. “Do you see a rabbit or a duck?” Mika Horibuchi asked as we looked at a simple drawing that once appeared in a German humor magazine and later found fame after being included by Ludwig Wittgenstein in his Philosophical Investigations as an example of different ways of seeing. It looked like both a rabbit and a duck. “At first, you’re able to see without any sort of pre-judgement,” Horibuchi said. “Then you make a switch cognitively based on the influence of outside information. I’m interested in the cognitive switch that happens in relation to the exterior physical world.”

Her labor-intensive paintings playfully explore these inconsistencies, offering up images that are immaculately rendered but slippery. Even as you recognize something, other readings seem to lurk, just out of sight. A work painted atop a table resembles a chess set and then a bit of weaving, a painting on linen shows fruit in a tree or maybe a playing card or even a die.

Horibuchi originally moved to Chicago from the Bay Area to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has stayed for the artistic community and a number of opportunities that might not be afforded to a young artist in other cities. Economically, she described Chicago as “friendly.” In addition to working as an artist, she also helped found 4th Ward Project Space, an artist-run space in Hyde Park. “It’s a small space that’s based on a foundation of mutual trust with the artists,” she said. “We don’t want to have too much of a curatorial hand in the exhibitions.”

Horibuchi is currently at work on pieces for several shows and projects, including a group exhibition at Loudhailer Gallery in Los Angeles this month, a show with Jordan Nassar at LVL3 Gallery in Chicago in the spring, a group show at Anat Ebgi Gallery in Los Angeles in June, and a solo show at Patron Gallery in Chicago, also in June. Below, a look around Horibuchi’s studio as she prepares work for 2016.


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