Keikichi Honna loves insects, and it shows on this week's cover of CityBeat.
'It's amazing that things this tiny are made so well,' Honna said. 'It flies and walks and so on. I thought it was interesting to make a large image out of a tiny thing.'
Honna's 'Fly,' a 36-by-36-inch pixilated acrylic-on-canvas painting, blows up the bug to exponential proportions. It was created as part of his research project while pursuing a master's degree at Ohio State University. At the time, Honna was studying photosensitive plastics, which are widely used in the printing industry.
'I was interested in how the gradation of an image was translated into the distribution of dots,' Honna said. 'And how the pattern then forms an image again.'
Honna likes the visual irony the painting creates—that something normally so small can be viewed only from afar.
'I think it's interesting to find an image in regularly placed dots,' Honna said. 'So, on and off I tried this format / technique—different color, subjects, etc., which kept me busy.'
Surprisingly, Honna is an engineer by training, having graduated with a degree in engineering from Tokai University in his native Japan. In many ways, his dual existence on both sides of the Pacific Ocean has influenced his work both here and with his Pop Zen Institute at OSU.
'Being bilingual forced me to think about the function of language,' Honna said. 'What I say and what I mean is not always the same. Thus, here comes humor, irony and sarcasm. I tried to see, or show, a gap between letter and spirit. And this has been the focus of my activities at the Pop Zen Institute. On the other hand, in those paintings, I was, in a way, just feeding the need of my hands.'
Still, Honna is ambivalent about the influence his dual American and Japanese existence plays in his art.
'Even though I feel like I'm an American, my frame of reference is my Japanese background, so without it, my work would be different,' he explained. 'And when I was in Japan, my frame of reference shifts to an American's, so Japanese people see me as a weirdo.'
To celebrate Honna's upcoming return home to Japan, San Diego's Set + Drift (setanddrift.org) will host an exhibition of Honna's work, Liquidation Sale!, from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 3, at The Bakery, 1701 National Ave. in Barrio Logan.