Kohei Nawa was born in 1975. He is one of Japan’s new generation of high-flying young artists. Over the last several years he has exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery, London, the Joan Miro Foundation, Barcelona, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, and in 2011 was the subject of a large survey show titled ‘Syntheses’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.
Nawa has a B.A. (Fine Art – Sculpture) from Kyoto City University; a sculpture course (Exchange student program) from the Royal College of Art, London (1998) and a Ph.D. in Fine Art – Sculpture, from Kyoto City University (1999). He is currently based in Kyoto; where he is the Director of “Sandwich,” a platform for creative minds, established in 2009 which operates out of an old sandwich factory in Fushimi, Kyoto.
- The National Gallery of Victoria’s (through the Felton Bequest) acquired Kohei Nawa’s PixCell-Red Deer, from his ‘Beads’ series. (2012), which challenges traditional perceptions and interpretations of three-dimensional objects and sculpture.
PixCell-Red Deer is a visually captivating work in which Nawa has completely covered the entire surface of a taxidermied red deer with resin and clear glass beads, transforming it, in Nawa’s words, ‘Into a shell of light’. The process fragments the object’s entire surface into countless cells; a collection of image elements; image cells or; in other words, ‘PixCells’. The large and small glass spheres covering the animal produce an effect of viewing it through many small optical prisms. While the beads of different sizes seem to interfere with a precise reading of the subject, they function as lenses that not only magnify sections of the subject, but also accentuate its colour, form and sensation in a way that seduces viewers and invites them to interpret reality with a new and previously unimagined awareness. PixCell-Red Deer enchants viewers with the natural grace and balance of its stance, the elegant, outstretching form of its antlers and its uncountable number of lenses reflecting micro-visions and translucent light. Further details available through at Kohei Nawa’s website.
- The use of the deer in PixCell-Red Deer is symbolic to Japanese culture and history. Since ancient times, deer have been believed to be the messengers and vehicles of Japan’s indigenous Shinto gods, and revered as sacred animals. In the deer park surrounding Kasuga Shrine in Nara, and at the shrine island of Itsukushima in Hiroshima Prefecture, the deer roam freely and are worshipped as sacred beings.
Oh deer, what can the matter be,
I’ve seen the PixCell-Red Deer’s anatomy
Oh how shiny and spatter free,
Kohei Nawa’s glassy game.
“Is It Art?”