MAKEsmile Heroes

Solo exhibition by ITOKiN

“If everyone around me is smiling, I can’t help but smile too. And if everyone felt as happy as I do, our world would be a peaceful place.”

This idea of joy is captured in the motto “MAKEsmile,” created by ITOKiN, a Japanese artist who has travelled to forty-seven countries around the world. Through his work, he brings smiles to people’s faces. He uses bright and vivid colours in his artwork, whether on canvas, in exhibitions, or on clothing, all to spread the message of “MAKEsmile” to the public and pursue his dream.

ITOKiN’s work is characterised by sharp lines and a palette of just three colours: blue, yellow, and red. He refers to these as his “Hero Colours.” These hues draw inspiration from children’s cartoons, where primary colours are frequently used.  The colours evoke feelings of courage, hope, and heroism, which is why he has given them this name.

To capture the essence of these positive moments, ITOKiN transfers his impressions to his sketchbook, aiming to preserve the spirit of those memorable times.  He begins with his Hero Colours in marker pens, before meticulously and precisely translating them onto canvas using acrylic paints.

In 2023, ITOKiN’s interest in Thailand led him to seek information and ultimately secure a commission to create a design identity for a cannabis shop on Khaosan Road, Bangkok. This summer, he plans to return to Thailand as an artist-in-residence at MATDOT Art Center. Here, he aims to create new artworks and showcase them in his first ever exhibition in Thailand.

Exhibition period: 5–31 May 2024

Opening reception: 13 May, 18.00–22.00 h

Midnight Sun, 2024
Acrylic on canvas
80 × 65 cm

Slow Elephant, 2024
Acrylic on canvas
80 × 65 cm

Paradise Keeper, 2024
Acrylic on canvas
80 × 65 cm

Shake Hands with Angkor Wat, 2024
Acrylic on canvas
80 × 65 cm

Hero Tawatchai, 2024
Acrylic on canvas
170 × 140 cm

Starting Line, 2024
Acrylic on canvas
27 × 22 cm

Everything is in your hands, 2024
Acrylic on canvas
30 × 26 cm

I’m King, 2024
Acrylic and gold leaf on canvas
100 × 80 cm

Great Hero Basquiat
2024
Acrylic on hat
39 cm (diameter)

Great Hero Bhumibol Adulyadej
2024
Acrylic on hat
39 cm (diameter)

Great Hero Einstein
2024
Acrylic on hat
39 cm (diameter)

Great Hero Frida Kahlo
2024
Acrylic on hat
39 cm (diameter)

Great Hero John Lennon
2024
Acrylic on hat
39 cm (diameter)

Great Hero Kurt Cobain
2024
Acrylic on hat
39 cm (diameter)

Great Hero Martin Luther King Jr.
2024
Acrylic on hat
39 cm (diameter)

Great Hero Matisse
2024
Acrylic on hat
39 cm (diameter)

Great Hero Nietzsche
2024
Acrylic on hat
39 cm (diameter)

Great Hero Steve Jobs
2024
Acrylic on hat
39 cm (diameter)

Air be Hero Love, 2024
Acrylic on sneaker
US 9.5

Air be Hero Star, 2024
Acrylic on sneaker
US 9.5

Air be Hero Fire, 2024
Acrylic on sneaker
US 9

The Back Side of Daruma
2024
Acrylic on daruma
27 × 27 × 24 cm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ITOKiN

ITOKiN, a Japanese self-taught artist, created the “MAKEsmile” concept in his art, which brought smiles to people’s faces during that difficult time. ITOKiN’s artistic journey began with a self-imposed challenge: to create art using his non-dominant hand. By overcoming fear and shyness, ITOKiN embodies the belief that anyone can achieve their goals with perseverance.