Hiroyuki Doi was born in Nagoya, Japan. He began his career in 1980, after the death of his younger brother. This life-changing trauma redirected his energies to the creation of visual art, soon eclipsing his training as a chef. “I started to feel that something other than myself allowed me to draw these works.” His very personal rationale for pursuing an artistic career meant that it was many years before he began to show his work at public exhibitions in Japan. It was not until 2001 that Doi’s work was first seen in the West, at the Phyllis Kind Gallery in New York. Thereafter, he has attracted considerable critical attention.
Doi combines the traditions of Asian and Western art, referring back to the Sino-Japanese tradition of ink painting (zhe/dunjinga) that became popular from the Edo period onward. He is aware of the Outsider and Self-Taught traditions in the West, as well as the art pioneered in Japan by Atsuko Tanaka and other artists of the post-war gutai movement. More recently, Doi’s achievements can be compared to those of the conceptual artist Yayoi Kusama. The artist follows in direct, linear descent from the great draftsmen of Japan’s past: Nagasawa Rosetsu, Katsushika Hokusai and many others. Using an archival Japanese ink pen, he creates meticulous works made of tiny circles that grow organically to become complex compositions, embodying a spiritual preoccupation with the relationship between the smallest part and the whole; from cellular biology to the cosmos. “His drawings are at once microscopic while paradoxically appearing to contain the infinite vastness of the universe, or a star-filled sky,” wrote Lindsay Pollock in Art in America (2011).
Doi has exhibited broadly, and his work is in many international public and private collections. He was shown at the Thomas Williams Gallery in London (2009), The Museum of Everything (2009 and 2010), and had a major retrospective at the Pilot Pen Station Museum in Tokyo (2013).