Michael Rikio Ming Hee Ho (born in 1996 in Hawaii) is a Cantonese, Japanese-American artist practicing in Tokyo. Ho graduated summa cum laude with a BA in fine arts from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2018. Studying under artists such as Barbara Kruger and Andrea Fraser, Ho’s works frequently use a combination of symbolic imagery and bold-type texts that are provocative or confronting when they are stand-alone but ambiguously complex when combined – the result being an opaque social commentary of absurdist and comical scale that puts the viewer in a position of interpretation.
At first view, Ho’s oeuvre of works can be seemingly preaching and discordant. However, it is worthwhile to question the origins of such experiences the work triggers. The works are composed of a collage of “ready-made” texts and symbols after all, and the experiences they prompt exist only in the presence of the viewer. In fact, Ho says that the works intend to provoke but not to sermonize; the works are unapologetically material in their production, and the human presence of the artist, apparent in the hand-painted texts and imperfect scars of white from a manual printing process, alludes to a young artist, who, like all of us, feel ever so lost in the many layers of the social sublime.
The “deliberate realism” may be Ho’s attempt to be humble about fine art’s purpose in this world. In essence, Ho’s works ask the viewer to share his concerned gaze, as he wanders in and out of the institutional and constructivist curtains, we often choose to ignore. Vulnerability may not be the initial impression one has of Ho’s works. Still, if you were to, fortunately, talk to him during a visit to the exhibition, you would find that his commitment to the viewer (or, in his words, altruism) extends to a certain resolution about who he is as an individual in the contemporary social landscape.