Japanese artist Kohei Nawa is coming to London to display art as powerful and relevant as its inspiration.

This September, Kyoto-based artist Kohei Nawa brings his world-acclaimed art to London for the first time. The She Inspires Art gala will be hosting Nawa’s first major installation in the UK, in an exclusive evening of performances and installments from leading contemporary artists. The collaboration is in aid of Women for Women International that works to restore the hope and future of female victims of conflict and war.

Nawa moves fluidly between different media in his distinctive practice. His breath-taking creations include taxidermied animals covered in an actual three-dimensional matrix of cells, in the form of glass beads, as well as large-scale installations of oil and foam. With an interest in industrial mass-production and digital culture, Nawa seeks with his art to challenge perception and illusion, by blurring the line between the virtual and the real.

From the 9th to the 19th of September at Pace London, 6 Burlington Gardens, Nawa will have a impressive exhibition exploring the idea of force, which he conceives as a set of invisible operations dictating the behaviour of materials.

In anticipation of the exhibition, Volt recently had the opportunity to interview the Japanese artist about his rule-breaking art.

What is your background?
I have had interests in crafting, astronomical observation and photography since I was little. I also continued doing sports and martial arts such as rugby and Karate. When I entered a sculpture course at an art college in Kyoto, I started to take interests in religious art, statues of Buddha, Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. It was not until I went to RCA in London as an exchange student that my interest clearly geared toward contemporary expressions.

Why are you interested in art?
It is a way of making sculptures from various materials and textures while developing a concept. Some of my artwork can only be defined spatially, so it is more like making people’s experiences than making sculptures.

What is the vision behind your art?
I think about what will change human sensibility in the future. From a cosmic point of view, there exists a “sensibility” in the universe. It transmits “something” to other sensibilities through a medium of material matter, and this makes a history of creation. I want to realize one of these connections through my sculpture.

Why did you start the creative studio SANDWICH?
I was looking for a new form of creative endeavor. I started to renovate an old sandwich factory six years ago and now architects, designers, students, and various people from different genres are gathering in this hub. We are working in a team for many projects: art, architecture, design, and project management. Now, there is a residence facility for artists from Japan and elsewhere. We have an active international exchange.


Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get inspiration naturally from finding out how I react to what is going on in the world. I think different states of each city or people’s lifestyle is a reflection of the human consciousness and sensibility of the time. However, all are not made from creative thoughts. I think it could be a future generation’s vision to decode and analyze them in order to extract possibilities for new expressions.

Words by Sophie van Hasselt


Filippa Bahrke, FOAM, Installations, Kohei Nawa, Kyoto, London, Oil, Pace, Powerful, Sophie van Hasselt, Women for Women International,