Osaka Brand Committee
Outenin Temple
Outenin Temple
digmeout (Dig-Me-Out) Installment 1
Avant-Garde x Entertaining x Open-Air Theater → Ishinha
Etching x Pastel → Sumako Yasui
Artist x Craftsperson → Yoko Matsumoto
Jokes x Art → Gendai Bijutsu Nitouhei
Sculpture x Flexibility → Kohei Nawa
Installations x Images → Chie Matsui
World Exhibition (Banpaku) x Future Ruins → Kenji Yanobe
Drive x Noise → Rogue’s Gallery
Self-Portrait x Art History → Yasumasa Morimura
 Listen (= Sound) x View (= Art) → Yukio Fujimoto
Yodogawa x Trash x Art→Yodogawa Technique
Biolgical field
Water city
Osaka Kaleidoscope

At age 32, Kohei Nawa's name and work are far more recognized than can be imagined for most young artists. Today, Nawa is definitely one of the busiest artists of his generation and is also known as a popular icon among art students. So, what has he been making?

Nawa himself acknowledges that his creations may be categorized as sculpture, but its conventional definition often fails to accurately describe his work. For his "BEADS" series, for example, he uses various objects such as stuffed specimens and totally covers their surfaces with small glass beads. Viewed through the transparent beads, the objects appear as if they have been reduced into small particles of light, creating an effect that is powerful enough to disapprove the ordinary images that we have had of them until that moment. In another series, called "PRISM," Nawa attempts to depict an unexplainable world that exists between reality and fiction by enclosing an object in a box made of prism sheets (which divert light in two directions). He has also produced "SCUM," a collection of amorphous objects made of polyurethane foam, and "LIQUID," which highlights the organic movement of liquid to express the moment when a creative idea is born. So far, Nawa has launched and continued more than five project series, all of which are abstract yet directly stimulate human senses. The true nature of Nawa's artwork is that it shakes people's senses and sensibilities.

Nawa is also unique in that he is quite flexible in his choice of materials and techniques, about which some artists can be very particular. "I do choose materials carefully, but it is more important for me to consider how I can use those materials as an interface and also how I can inspire people's senses with them," says Nawa. Having experienced the IT revolution as a graduate student, he mostly finds his materials on the Internet. "We are now free from geographic and temporal factors that used to limit our imagination," says Nawa. "The revolution also helped remove a presumption that sculptures need to be made only of certain materials." His attitude suggests to us that he is probably a practical example of what an artist will be in the advanced information society.

Water Cell

  Nawa loved to make things when he was a child. As a student   at art college, he maintained his hopes of eventually pursuing a creative career in some form, but he just couldn't imagine himself making a living in art. His views, however, changed after he went to England to study as an exchange student during his graduate school years. "It is extremely tough to be an artist, but successful artists are highly respected in society. I realized that and was greatly encouraged." Since his first private exhibition in 2000, Nawa has widely expanded his activities both in Japan and overseas. This year, he plans to hold a series of monthly exhibitions at various locations around the world, including Dubai, Barcelona, Basel, Zurich, and Beijing. Based on what Nawa has demonstrated, it is reasonable to say that globalization is obviously the key to success for today's contemporary artists.

During the 90s, artists such as Takashi Murakami attempted to establish their identities by emphasizing the peculiarity of Japanese modern culture. It is, however, not the direction in which Nawa and other artists of his generation are heading. What matters to them is simply whether to produce a superior piece of work or not. While it's been only eight years since the 21st century began, Japanese artists today have already made an evolutionary change in the way they live and create. And Nawa's success clearly proves this point.

(2006, h:695 x w:995 mm ,Acrylic paint on paper)

Water Cell
(2007, 800 x 800 x 2800mm, Water, silicone oil; photographed by Keizo Kioku)

December 26, 2007
Text by Takafumi Kobuki, a freelance art writer

Kohei Nawa Profile

Born in Osaka, Nawa held his first private exhibition at Gallery Sowaka (Kyoto) in 2000 and has presented his work individually or as a group at the Nomart Project Space (Osaka), studio J (Osaka), SCAI THE BATHHOUSE (Tokyo), and other locations. His work has also been featured at various galleries, museums, and art fairs overseas. In 2005, Nawa was a participating member of the art program for the Aichi EXPO. His recent projects include work displays in public spaces as well as space designs.

Exhibition Information

Kohei Nawa Exhibition: TORSO
Feb. 9 (Sat.) - Mar. 8 (Sat.), 2008
Closed on Sundays and national holidays
11:00 - 19:00 (13:00 - 19:00 for Saturdays)
Nomart Project Space Cube & Loft
3-5-22 Nagata, Joto-ku, Osaka-shi
TEL: 06-6967-1354

Author Profile
Takafumi Kobuki
Worked as an editor for an information magazine and became a freelancer in 2005. Writes art-related articles for Kyoto Shimbun, Bijutsu Techo, Pia Kansai, ELLE, artscape (online) and more.
Personal website: “Katte-ni RECOMMEND”
Personal blog: “Takafumi Kobuki: Art-no Kobujime”