Itoheader-800x450 The Naturally Surreal Sculputures of Hirotoshi Ito

Is this some sort of nightmare? Not quite, but it may as well be looking at the stone sculptures from Japanese artist Hirotoshi Ito. These optical illusions created by fusing natural stones with mind-bending surreal imagery will make you question your reality.

The jarring juxtapositions between human teeth, complex mechanics, and other natural objects, like beans and fur, all worked into a canvas of stone started appearing online a few years ago. By looking at Ito’s history and education, how these strange combinations came to be starts to make sense.

ito5-800x450 The Naturally Surreal Sculputures of Hirotoshi Ito

Like a knife through hard stone

Hirotoshi Ito’s family ran a stonemason business. Thinking that his future would be in metal, he studied metal working at Tokyo National Fine Arts University. He eventually came back around to working in stone, but what he learned from his metal working education never left him.

Combining the natural with the unnatural is the hallmark of his art, and he begins each artistic odyssey with a trip to the stream near his home where he discovers the basis of his work by picking up simple stones that are caught in the flow of the water. From there he works his magic to turn them into the pieces of art you see here.

Combining the natural with the unnatural is the hallmark of his art

Hirotoshi Ito also works in a more traditional form of sculpting. In his other approach to the craft, he again starts with stone as his base and creates sculptures that appear to be other objects entirely, such as a folded sweater, a pair of boots, or a chocolate cake.

ito9-800x450 The Naturally Surreal Sculputures of Hirotoshi Ito

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The finished results are not always completely convincing. It’s always easy to tell, upon closer inspection, that you are in fact looking at a piece of stone. But that seems to be the point. Shaping a natural object into something else while keeping it recognizable as a piece of nature is the the message that Ito’s art conveys.

Regardless, the work is fascinating. Be sure to browse the gallery below and visit this website for more photos and information.