Kohei Nawa

2015.3.7 (Sat.) - 4.25 (Sat.)
Exhibition Period:
Saturday, 7 March - Saturday, 18 April, 2015 *Extended until 25 April, 2015
Opening Hours: 12:00-18:00 *Closed on Mon. and Sun.

Questioning the ever uncertain grasp of reality in the digital information age, Kohei Nawa has been challenging our sensory experience through visual and tactical interventions. Nawa’s idea of “PixCell”—digital pixelation applied to biological cells— seizes each object’s presence with a manipulated surface layer of glass beads, polyurethane foam or prism sheets. The artist’s practice involves the latest 3D production and a chemist-like approach to material tuning. The amplified visual impact created suggests a new genre of contemporary sculpture, which can only be completed in the retinal perception of each viewer. His exploration of the boundary between the real and the virtual aims to renew our understanding of materiality and the way it is seen through technology prevalent in the last few decades.

Nawa’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, "FORCE," unfolds as a constant flow of liquid through the law of gravity. In the installation Force (2015), streams of black oil fall like rain to form a thick puddle on the floor. After carefully engineering its viscosity in the studio, the artist applies the material with rapid motion and creates an impression of solid sculpture. This tightly configured space induces a keen awareness that we are caught among time, space and materiality at every present moment. For Nawa, the white cube has been a site of enactment for primordial natural phenomenon using today’s synthetic compounds. This can be seen in eruptive bubbles of silicone oil as “LIQUID” (2003-), or a multiplied expanse of foam grown to an oppressive scale (Foam, 2013). The current installation extends the artist’s domain into an integrated concept following “GLUE” (2000-), drawings with a thermoplastic glue gun, and more recent Direction (2011) and Moment (2014-).

Direction is a series of acrylic paintings, in which the artist drips pigment ink from the upper edge of stretched canvas. These rhythmic and monochrome patterns are direct traces of liquid moving towards one direction and produces a stark visualization of binary code. For Moment (2014-)— a physics term indicating force rotating around the axis—the artist deploys a pendulum device with a tank of pigment. The constructed device has a nozzle dripping ink and drawing an overlaying trajectory of circular swings. The line travels from one point to another, and every minute difference in air pressure or nozzle size deforms the line into curvature of unexpected variations. While the liquid is precisely measured and controlled within the mechanism, the artist introduces spontaneous intervention by instantly sliding the canvas to produce sporadic evidence of chaos. As the moment of force decreases, the pendulum slowly returns to the point of fulcrum - just as the physicality of our body is bound by the gravitational field.

Kohei Nawa (b. 1975, Osaka) lives and works in Kyoto, Japan. After a semester abroad at the Royal College of Art, London, he received a Ph.D. in Fine Art Sculpture from the Kyoto City University of Arts (2003). Between 2005-2006, he stayed in New York through the support of the Asian Cultural Council, and Berlin through Daimler Chrysler. In 2009, he founded the creative platform SANDWICH (Kyoto), thereafter serving as its director. Notable solo exhibitions include: "L_B_S" at Ginza Maison Hermes, Tokyo, 2009; "Synthesis" at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 2011; and "SCULPTURE GARDEN" at Kirishima Open-air Art Museum, Kagoshima, 2013. He has participated in the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial in Brisbane, Australia, 2009; the 14th Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 2010 (Grand Prize winner); Aichi Triennale in Nagoya, Japan, 2013, amongst others. Nawa is currently an Associate Professor at the Kyoto University of Art and Design.