Rie Hosokai and Takashi Kawada’s abstract creations are far from what most people would imagine when picturing balloon art. There are no colorful flowers or animal shapes here, but rather etheric installations that hope to spark curiosity. 

Floating a Trial Balloon

Hosokai is a full-time artist who has made balloons her main medium of expression; Kawada is a trained graphic designer and art director with sky-high ambitions and imagination. Together, they create out-of-the-box works that defy expectations. It was Kawada who approached Hosokai about forming the creative unit that, in 2009, came to be Daisy Balloon. “Talking with Rie, the ideas I wanted to express through graphic design changed to three-dimensional ideas,” he says. Since then, the duo has collaborated on dozens of projects exhibited around Japan at both art museums and commercial spaces. 

Many of the works that Hosokai and Kawada create together spawn from life’s greatest questions. While they didn’t choose to work with balloons for any particular reason, the material doubles as an antithesis to their heavy subject matter, being as light as air itself. It’s difficult not to associate balloons with birthdays or other celebrations, but Hosokai and Kawada hope that this unlikely exposition is exactly what will inspire people to think differently about the world around them: “We feel that when people are freed from these concepts, they can expand their sphere of thinking about all elements.”

Serendipitous Levitations

Working with balloons can be challenging, but what most people would consider a demerit, Hosokai and Kawada consider a blessing. Balloons can be inconsistent and unpredictable — unlike more malleable materials like paint or clay. “The rate of air loss varies depending on the environment, but sometimes the piece can transform into an unexpected state,” they explain. “We call that phenomenon an error of nature, where visually it looks more like an element of failure.” Hosokai and Kawada choose to see these serendipitous events as happy accidents and newfound potential for their art pieces.

Openness to change and the unexpected is very much a core value for the creative work that Hosokai and Kawada do together. Daisy Balloon doesn’t discriminate when it comes to projects. The unit spends equal time and energy on art installations — notably their contributions to the last couple of iterations of Roppongi Art Night — and on commercial storefronts at shopping complexes like Ginza Six and Omotesando Hills. It’s rare to have artists who swiftly shift between personal and professional projects. Daisy Balloon sees this as a challenge — and a necessary one at that. Working on a wide array of projects allows Hosokai and Kawada to better understand others and the context for their art. “It is not easy to move between the two,” they say, “but it’s also a welcomed challenge as creative people.”

Drifting Onwards

Daisy Balloon’s latest exhibited work was featured during Roppongi Art Night 2023, held in late May. Titled “Turbulence,” the piece was Hosokai and Kawada’s combined interpretation of the festival’s theme, “Urban Life Encyclopedia,” and hung from the Roppongi Hills Metro Hat for all commuters to see. On the event website, the artists share their aspiration for this massive installation: “The aim of this work is not to blame injustice and absurdity, but to quietly reflect on our inner conflicts and to instill the hope that we can adapt ourselves freely to the unpredictable turbulence of our world.”

The future of Daisy Balloon remains open and flexible, much like Hosokai and Kawada’s evergoing dance between subject and object. “We are changing ourselves and being guided by others, and we are also undergoing a great deal of internal and external change in social and natural change.” One thing is certain: The unit’s upcoming works will be the product of pure passion, inquisitiveness and the desire to make the world a better place. 

For more information on upcoming exhibitions and events at the Daisy Balloon gallery and other venues, visit the Daisy Balloon website.