Hiroshi Mehata 
Mehata Sentimental Legend

visual sound artist
Tokyo, Japan

I MADE MY way to a small apartment in Eifuku, Tokyo, on a rainy January afternoon to meet Hiroshi Mehata, a visual and sound artist as he prepared for his exhibition later in the year. While it is his bright visual pieces that first drew me to his practice, Hiroshi views himself as a musician first and insists that his final art pieces are merely an expression of his music in visual form.
Hiroshi started as part of a punk rock band, before going solo a decade ago as he began experimenting with the possibilities of sound and music. He describes his process of making music as accidental. Inspiration comes from everywhere: a chime on public transport or a note of music from a TV drama. From a singular sound impression Hiroshi creates ethereal soundscapes that are his way of exploring the subconscious depths and transitory states of the mind.

Hiroshi speaks of his music in dream-like, abstract terms. It fuses together elements of traditional Japanese instruments with futuristic, psychedelic riffs. Hiroshi spoke very humbly about coming to terms with the fact that his experimental sound will not be popular in Japan, partly due to a strong emphasis on technicality and craftsmanship.
His view is that the community will benefit from a more open outlook, with less gatekeeping. Nevertheless, he has found global fans, which has resulted in his longevity and tours to Spain, America and other parts of Asia.

"Sometimes, depending on my mental state, I see colours when I hear music."

Hiroshi's music is the starting point for his visual art. Just as with his music making process, his art is experimental and meditative, as he attempts to visually represent his sound through his paintings. The result is a energetic mob of colours, impressions and shapes. Look closely and one might recognise motifs, colours and shapes from traditional Japanese art, which Hiroshi intentionally pairs with his music. For this reason, his artworks remind me of "Magic Eye" books, and I found myself staring at the paintings in his home, searching for a hidden illusion.
Over a decade ago, just on the cusp of the rise of social media, Hiroshi recalls uploading his music online, including an accompanying album jacket of his own design. This attracted the attention of a fellow artist in America who recommended that he create art concurrently with his music.

Hiroshi explained that it was this chance online aquaintance and his piece of advice that led to him continue producing imagery. Hiroshi laughs when he tells me that it is difficult for him to be recognised as a musician in Japan, but the scene is more accepting of him as a visual artist.

"My main ambition [in life and in art] is not specific.  I just want to be more free."

Without noticing, a couple of hours passed as Hiroshi and I spoke about his art practice and his worldview. You’ll notice that in the photos Hiroshi’s face is partially obscured from view. He told me that despite his decades of performing his music on stage around the world, he was still not used to having his photo taken. It’s almost like he takes on a totally different persona, one that is expressive and more free. 
Since our meeting in January, Hiroshi held his first exhibition in seven years, ‘The Color Cleanser‘ in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The large number of visitors prompted organisers to extend the exhibition. For the exhibition, Hiroshi paired his paintings with his music, using an app that converted the colour values of his images into sound, making it a unique experience.

Hiroshi Mehata 
Mehata Sentimental Legend


Visited January 2023, published August 2023.