Indispensable: Chad Hasegawa

"Indispensable" is a series that asks the de Young’s Artists in Residence to explain a tool that’s essential to their work.

So tell us why you picked a hammer.

I use a lot of bucket paint and this hammer is the best thing for closing the lid on a can. I’m constantly opening and closing my buckets and I’m constantly shaking them.  So if they’re not shut tightly, paint is getting all over the place. It’s a really a major part of my process. Look at all my paintings, there’s like a billion colors in there. I’m opening a lot of cans for a short period of time each.

I’ve been using this hammer for six years, and it’s been all over. I brought it to Switzerland, Miami, Hawaii. It’s a “just in case” tool. Even if I’m not planning to paint, or not sure I’m going to paint, it’s still with me.Where did you get this particular hammer?

Out of my mom’s tool box at home.

So you stole it from your mom?

I borrowed it! I’m still borrowing it! My mom shouldn’t be hammering things anyway. She probably doesn’t even remember this was hers. I don’t know why she bought it; she’s not a carpenter or anything. It was probably for hanging paintings, or to put the wreath on the front door.

I don’t even like people touching it. My brushes, whatever, even my paint, whatever. But I would be depressed if I lost that hammer. I was in a gallery once during an install and I saw some guy using it, and I was like, “Don’t you ever touch that.” You know how people go to Vegas and put charms on their machines for good luck? This is my thing, my elephant charm. My good luck.

You wouldn’t necessarily consider a hammer to be an important tool for a painter.

My art is a lot about construction. The abstracts are for sure structural. I call my abstract work, “lean on and against.” It’s made up of pillars that are leaning on something or against something. I was influenced by my own sculptures because I make those out of two-by-fours, four-by-fours, six-by-sixes, put together with carriage bolts and lag bolts.

I start from the bottom up as I’m building the painting. It’s kind of a puzzle, like stacking something. Would that really be able to stand on its own? Would that angle really push up that way? Is it structurally sound? I’m pretty sure it is.

Visit Chad Hasegawa and see his project "Self-Portrait" in at the de Young's Kimball Education Gallery through May 1, 2016. An artist reception will be held on Friday April 29, 2016, from 6–8:30pm.

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