Kohei Nawa Exhibition

A few weeks ago I travelled for 48 hours to Tokyo to see one of the best solo museum shows I have ever seen, the current exhibition of Japanese artist Kohei Nawa “SYNTHESIS” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. The exhibition is a major survey of his work shown across 10 gallery spaces, each featuring a body of work from a different series, created by Nawa over the past 8 years.


The show starts with ‘The Prism’ sculptures each made of a box covered in prism sheets that split the light, causing the object inside (a stool, a cactus or an animal head) that should exist within it to appear as a virtual image according to the angle at which it is viewed. The next gallery features Nawa’s Pixcell glass bead series. In this series, stuffed animals are covered with transparent beads to create what Nawa describes as ‘PixCell’. By covering the surface of an object with the glassbeads, “a husk of light” replaces the existence of the object itself, and the new vision “the cell of an image” (PixCell) is revealed. The two real life full body deers and the two deer heads were stunning.

What I love about Nawa’s work is that boundaries are blurred between virtual reality and reality, between digital imagery and real sculpture. Throughout the creative process Nawa uses the internet to research and create yet a large part of the creative process is made in the studio, where glass, resin and many other materials are used to create his experimental contemporary sculptures.

My favourite room in the show was actually the last one, a dark gallery featuring the floor installation LIQUID. In a rectangle acrylic box on the floor, liquid is contained with silicon oil, pigments, air pumps and fluorescent lights. Bubbles appear and vanish continuously on the surface of white liquid expressing the countless ‘cells’ that are produced to stimulate sight and touch. I could have spent all day just sitting and watching the bubbles appear and disappear and admiring this young and incredibly talented artist who is worthy of (and is ready for) solo shows at Tate Modern or the MOMA NY. I hope they discover him soon.

Tamar Arnon, Curator

Kohei Nawa (born 1975) is a sculptor and assistant professor at the Kyoto University of Art and Design. Represented by: Scai The Bathouse, Tokyo www.scaithebathhouse.com

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