Nawa Kohei has been developing a new type of sculpture based on his unique way of perceiving the world through cells, using various materials such as glass and liquid as well as technology like 3D scanning.
Nawa’s signature PixCell series comprises sculptures in which transparent spheres cover the surface of stuffed animals, musical instruments, and other objects collected on internet. The term “PixCell” is a blend of the words “pixel” and “cell.”
The objects that we see on the Internet are perceived through the pixels of the screens in our computers and mobile devices and are united by a singular flat texture. Nawa’s cell-covered works are magnified and distorted by the lens-like effect of their surfaces. The cells create a kind of moving image effect as the viewer moves throughout the space and changes their vantage point. The objects themselves can then only be seen through the cells and can no longer be the subject of physical reality through visual and tactile perception.
Nawa’s work mirrors, through sculpture, our contemporary global information society, where emphasis on efficiency and convenience has led to the elimination of physical sensation. It also echoes, in a peculiar way, the current state of the world and the COVID-19 pandemic as, now more than ever, we engage with the world through virtual connectivity.
Photo: Oyamada Kuniya
Sculptor / Director of Sandwich Inc. / Professor at Kyoto University of the Arts
Born in 1975, and based in Kyoto, Japan, Nawa Kohei received a PhD in Fine Art / Sculpture from Kyoto City University of Arts in 2003, and established Sandwich in 2009. Focusing on the surface “skin” of sculpture as an interface connecting to the senses, Nawa began his PixCell series in 2002 based on the concept of the cell, symbolizing the information age. Adopting a flexible interpretation of the meaning of sculpture, he produces perceptual experiences that reveal the physical properties of materials to the viewer through works addressing themes related to life and the cosmos and to artistic sensibility and technology, including Direction, in which he produces paintings using gravity, Force, in which silicone oil pours down through space, Biomatrix, in which bubbles and grids emerge on a liquid surface, and Foam, in which bubbles form enormous volumes. Recently, Nawa has also worked on architectural projects, including the art pavilion Kohtei. VESSEL, a performance work produced in conjunction with Belgo-French choreographer and dancer Damian Jalet, has been presented around the world since its premiere in 2015. In 2018, his sculpture Throne was exhibited under the Pyramid at the Musée du Louvre in Paris, France.