New Artwork by Kohei Nawa

Japanese artists Kohei Nawa displayed several new works at Hong Kong’s Pace Gallery.

PixCell Fallow Deer: mixed media sculpture by Kohei Nawa, 2019 (Pace Gallery)

The PixCell Series

The mixed-media sculptures in Kohei Nawa’s PixCell series explore one of the artists common themes—the relationship between nature and artificiality.

PixCell Fallow Deer: mixed media sculpture by Kohei Nawa, 2019 (Pace Gallery)

This sculpture of a deer—PixCell Fallow Deer—was created by covering a real taxidermied deer with transparent glass spheres. Viewed from a distance and brightly lit, the spheres on the surface give off a bright, radiant glow, giving the deer the otherworldly feel of a sci-fi crystalline animal (think of the crystal foxes of the Star Wars universe or a hybrid creature from the movie Annihilation).

PixCell Fallow Deer (detail view): mixed media sculpture by Kohei Nawa, 2019 (Pace Gallery)

If you get a little closer to the sculpture, the animal within starts to become visible, but its shape and colors are distorted by multiple spheres of varied sizes.

Up close, the spheres act like magnifying glasses, allowing you to see fine details such as individual strands of hair.

PixCell Fallow Deer (close-up view): mixed media sculpture by Kohei Nawa, 2019 (Pace Gallery)

To create these sculptures, the artist searches online for taxidermied animals being sold or auctioned off.

PixCell Fallow Deer: mixed media sculpture by Kohei Nawa, 2019 (Pace Gallery)

The word ‘PixCell’ is a portmanteau created by the artist from the words ‘pixel’ (the smallest unit of a digital image) and ‘cell’ (the smallest unit of a life-form).

The exhibition also included a double-headed deer (mounted on the wall like a bizarre hunting trophy) and a rabbit.

PixCell Rabbit: mixed media sculpture by Kohei Nawa, 2019 (Pace Gallery)
PixCell Rabbit: mixed media sculpture by Kohei Nawa, 2019 (Pace Gallery)
PixCell Double Deer: mixed media sculpture by Kohei Nawa, 2019 (Pace Gallery)
PixCell Double Deer (detail view): mixed media sculpture by Kohei Nawa, 2019 (Pace Gallery)

The Throne Series

Also included in the exhibition are three sculptures in the artist’s Throne series. These elaborate sculptures deal with the artist’s concerns about humanity blindly following advancements in computing, science and artificial intelligence. The thrones represent a power that entices us to claim it while at same time threatening to overwhelm us.

Three sculptures in Kohei Nawa’s Throne series

The golden sculpture in the middle is based on traditional designs found in portable shrines and festival parade floats. This throne is unoccupied

Throne (g/p_Pyramid): mixed media sculpture by Kohei Nawa, 2019 (Pace Gallery)

In the middle of the sculpture, there are two metallic spheres, one facing the front and one facing the back. These represent the eyes of the world, with one looking toward the future and the other looking back on the past.

This sculpture is a smaller version of one that was displayed in the glass pyramid at the Louvre. The color is partly inspired by the gold-leaf trim of the museum.

In each of the other two sculptures, the throne is occupied by a tiny childlike figure in what looks to be a spacesuit.

If advanced technology is a throne, does humanity sit on the throne or it subsumed within in? Will we control technology or will it control us?

Throne (p/g_boy): mixed media sculpture by Kohei Nawa, 2019 (Pace Gallery)
Throne (p/g_boy) (detail view): mixed media sculpture by Kohei Nawa, 2019 (Pace Gallery)
Throne (p/g_boy) (view from the side): mixed media sculpture by Kohei Nawa, 2019 (Pace Gallery)
Throne (SiCp_boy) (detail view): mixed media sculpture by Kohei Nawa, 2019 (Pace Gallery)
Throne (SiCp_boy) (detail view): mixed media sculpture by Kohei Nawa, 2019 (Pace Gallery)

The Elements Series

The exhibition also featured nine paintings in Kohei Nawa’s Elements series. These are silkscreen and acrylic works that have dark patterns on even darker backgrounds. They give off a sense of mystery and the unknown as ambiguous, amorphous shapes emerge from and recede back into the darkness.

Element-Black#8: silkscreen on paper, acrylic, wooden panel,by Kohei Nawa, 2019 (Pace Gallery)
Element-Black#7: silkscreen on paper, acrylic, wooden panel,by Kohei Nawa, 2019 (Pace Gallery)

Photography Challenges

One thing about this artist is that his works are quite difficult to photograph! For example, the bright light reflecting off of the PixCell animals tended to blow out the highlights. Therefore, I reduced the exposure when shooting the images. When I was editing the photos, I left the tones a little darker and warmer in order to better bring out the shapes of the spheres.The actual sculptures, when lit up, are brighter.

Similarly, the photos of the dark paintings are not quite as dark as the paintings are in reality.

Go Further

Visit the artist’s website: kohei-nawa.net

Three Questions

  1. Which work do you like best? Why?
  2. What worries do you have about future technology?
  3. Can you think of a metaphor for one of your worries (e.g., an attractive throne)? How could you then represent this metaphor in art?

Art Challenge

Find something in naturea leaf, a branch, a rock, a flower. Transform it by covering it or merging it with something artificial (e.g., thread, cloth, plastic, glitter, etc.).


~text and photos by

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Ottawa Street Art

I regularly travel to Ottawa—Canada’s capital city—but it was only during my most recent visit in the summer of 2018 that I noticed a lot of street art around the city.

You can view the entire series of photos (134 images) at a higher resolution (2048 x 1365) at Flickr or Google Photos

1. Hintonburg

Hintonburg is a neighborhood a few kilometers west of downtown Ottawa. During the last couple of decades it has been undergoing a long process of hipsterfication and gentrification. While I was visiting Ottawa, my sister, who lives in Ottawa, took me on a tour of some of the street art around Hintonburg.

Scattered around the neighborhood are several murals by Arpi (aka Rene-Pierre Beaudry: www.instagram.com/arpi_la_vie), an artist formerly from Montreal who specializes in realistic depictions of animals, birds, insects and reptiles. It is quite unusual to see one artist’s work dominate a neighborhood to such an extent.

Here is one his murals on a shopfront on Armstrong Street.

Street Art by Arpi; Armstrong St.
Mural by Arpi (detail view)
Mural by Arpi (detail view)

Arpi also created the following mural on a residential street. Besides featuring images of birds, branches and insects, the mural (which is partially blocked by a pole and is half-covered in vines) also includes images of utility poles, a transformer and street lamps. The whole thing is a kind of intermingling of natural and man-made elements.

Street art mural by Arpi; Hintonburg, Ottawa
Mural (detail view) by Arpi
Mural (detail view) by Arpi
Mural (detail view) by Arpi

The next mural references nature, cycling and the old Ottawa Electric Railway, a tram line which was in operation from 1891 to 1958. Nowadays, many cities are starting to move towards electric buses, but the local bus operator, OC Transpo, hasn’t been enthusiastic about the idea. Perhaps the mural’s slogan ’round we go’ is a call to action to return to more environmentally-friendly electric public transport.

Mural by Arpi; Hintonburg, Ottawa.

Arpi also painted this large mural of a cat.a

Mural by Arpi; Hintonburg, Ottawa

The next mural is on the wall of the Railbender tattoo parlor on Hamilton Street. There is a lot going on the design, so I find the whole thing a little chaotic. I am not sure if Arpi painted all the elements.

Mural by Arpi; Hamilton Street, Ottawa
Hamilton Street mural (detail view)
Gecko: Hamilton Street mural (detail view)
Train: Hamilton Street mural (detail view)
Wellington St. electrical enclosures; art by Arpi
Hawk: Wellington St. electrical enclosure; art by Arpi
Grasshopper: Wellington St. electrical enclosure; art by Arpi
Toad: Wellington St. electrical enclosure; art by Arpi

On the wall of an auto-repair shop is this large mural by Ryan Smeeton (www.instagram.com/ryansmeeton). The image of a laborer serves as a tribute to the working-class roots of Hintonburg.

Mural by Ryan Smeeton
Mural by Ryan Smeeton

2. Bank Street, Downtown

Bank St. is the main road which runs from north to south, bisecting the city. If you are downtown, you can look for some of these artworks. The first mural is by Cassandra D. It towers over a sitting-out area at Bank St. just south of Slater.

Street art mural by Cassandra D (Style Over Status); on Bank Str. Ottawa
Street art mural by Cassandra D (Style Over Status)

If you head south on Bank St., a few blocks to the corner of Lisgar Street. you may come across this lovely fish mural painted on a construction hoarding. It was painted by the laportebrothers, Phil and Dom Laporte (www.instagram.com/laportebrothers & www.instagram.com/domlasoul)

Mural by laportebrothers (Phil & Dom Laporte); Bank St., Ottawa
Mural by laportebrothers (detail view)

One block south of Lisgar is this colorful mural on the corner of Bank and Cooper. Like the rest of the murals in this section, the building address is on Bank. St. but the actual mural is on the side of the building

Mural on the corner of Bank and Cooper Streets
Mural on the corner of Bank and Cooper Streets (detail view)
Mural on the corner of Bank and Cooper Streets (detail view)

If you go a few blocks further south on Bank St., you will reach Gilmour St., where there is a mural celebrating Canada’s first march for gay rights, which took place in Ottawa in 1971.

LGBT Mural, Gilmour Street
LGBT mural (detail view)
Guitarist, tags and throw-ups (I can’t remember exactly where this is, but I imagine there is a shiny new building there now.)
Doorway at the corner of Lewis Street and Bank St.

A few blocks to the west of Bank St. on Slater St. is this series of murals on a wall at the back of a dog park. The wall is known as Techwall as the other side of the wall was the site of Ottawa Technical High School, which closed in 1992. The mural was still being painted when I was there and appears to have been created by dbscrew. If you have any information about the artists, please let me know.

Street art mural at Tech Wall by (I think) dbscrew; Slater Street; Ottawa
Street art mural at Tech Wall (detail view)
Street art mural at Tech Wall (detail view)
Street art mural at Tech Wall (detail view)

3. The Glebe

Further south, Bank Street runs through the upscale neighborhood known as the Glebe, where you can see these two murals by Pat Buck (www.instagram.com/patbuck_thekid) and Dan Metcalfe (www.instagram.com/thehigherups). The murals are in the alley between Third and Fourth Avenues.

Matryoshka-inspired street art by Pat Buck and Dan Metcalfe
Street art by Pat Buck and Dan Metcalfe (detail view)
Street art by Pat Buck and Dan Metcalfe (detail view)
Mural by Pat Buck and Dan Metcalfe
Mural by Pat Buck and Dan Metcalfe (detail view)

4. Preston Street and Somerset Street

In a parking lot just off Preston St. is this large mural by Dems (www.instagram.com/d3M5) and Sarah Doll (www.instagram.com/doll.face.one). This is said to be the largest street art mural in the city..

Street art by Dems & Doll (Sarah Doll); Preston St., Ottawa
Street art (detail view) by Dems & Doll (Sarah Doll)

Running perpendicular to Preston St., Somerset St. passes through the heart of Ottawa’s Chinatown (the businesses in the neighborhood now represent a wide variety of cultures). Some of the artworks on Somerset St. were painted during a 2013 street art event called Chinatown Blossoms, which paired up artists and small businesses in an effort to beautify the district..

Street Art at Somerset and Booth
Street Art on Somerset Street

There were a few panda-themed artworks on display. Here is the largest one.

Panda mural, Somerset Street
Mural on the side of the Royal Phuket restaurant (detail view)
Portrait

The mural shown below is by Julian Garner (www.instagram.com/5ivecents). It is beautiful, but is mostly behind trees. The mural should be easier to see in the winter, after the leaves have fallen. It is located on the side of the Art House Cafe at the Corner of Somerset and Bay Streets.

Hidden mural by Julian Garner; Somerset Street
Mural (detail view) by Julian Garner

5. The Byward Market

The area around the Byward Market is Ottawa’s traditional trendy (if that is not too much of an oxymoron) restaurant and nightlife area .I noticed a few large murals while strolling around.

Street art, Byward Market, Ottawa
Street art, Byward Market, Ottawa

The mural shown below was difficult to photograph as it is in a shady alley

Street art, Byward Market, Ottawa
Street art, Byward Market, Ottawa

I like the mythical feel of this mural by Drew Mosley (drew-mosley.com) and Pat Buck. The creature on the far right is carrying fire while the one on the far left is carrying shelter. But what about the two in the middle?

Street art mural by Drew Mosley an Pat Buck; at the corner of Dalhousie and York
Street art mural by Drew Mosley an Pat Buck; at the corner of Dalhousie and York
Street art mural by Drew Mosley an Pat Buck; at the corner of Dalhousie and York

At the corner of George and Dalhousie Streets is this large mural that was a created as part of a collaboration between the Ottawa School of Art and a group of young Inuit artists known as the Embassy of Imagination (www.embassyofimagination.com). The main subject of the mural is a whale, with its stomach filled with all manner of life.

Street art mural by the Ottawa School of Art and Embassy of Imagination; at the corner of George and Dalhousie Streets, Ottawa
Street art mural by the Ottawa School of Art and Embassy of Imagination; at the corner of George and Dalhousie Streets, Ottawa

On the York Steps is this artwork entitled Kwáshkwan-in! (Jump!). It features Salmon leaping up the steps.This art was commissioned by the federal government and was created by Naomi Ratte.

Kwáshkwan-in! (Jump!), artwork by Naomi Ratte on the York Street Steps

6. Gatineau & Chaudière Island

Just across the river from Ottawa, is the city of Gatineau (which is in the French-speaking province of Quebec). The three pieces I saw there seemed to be mounted onto the walls rather than painted directly onto the walls. Here are the three works: a pop art collage by Marin Mitrasinovic (konceptart.ca/about), a colorful and enchanting portrait of a street artist by Rafaël Alin and a portrait by Maria-Rosa Szychowska (www.szychowska.com).

Pop60 by Marin Mitrasinovic; Gatineau
L’été 2016 by Rafaël Alin, Gatineau
L’été 2016 by Rafaël Alin, Gatineau
Dallaire à fleur rouge by Maria-Rosa Szychowska, Gatineau
Dallaire à fleur rouge (detail view) by Maria-Rosa Szychowska

Crossing the Ottawa River on the way to Gatineau are the disused industrial buildings on Chaudière Island. I took these photos a few years ago.

Chaudière Island
Chaudière Island

More Photos

You can view the entire series of photos (134 images) at a higher resolution (2048 x 1365) at Flickr or Google Photos

Three Questions

  1. Which artwork featured on this page do you like the best?
  2. How can street art benefit a community?
  3. Most of the murals I saw appear to have been sponsored by small businesses.This has resulted in some very attractive pieces (as the artists don’t need to hurriedly and surreptitiously complete their work under cover of darkness). However, this also means the themes and subjects of the art tend to be very safe. What can be done so that artists feel freer to deal with more controversial and.or less pleasant subject matter?

Art Challenge

Sketch a wall near your home, school or office. Design an artwork that would go on the wall and add it to your sketch.

~photos and text by


More Street Art Galleries

Street Art in Ottawa, Ontario
Street Art in Shoreditch London
Street Art in Shoreditch, London
Street Art in Hongdae, Seoul
Street Art in Hongdae, Seoul
Street Art in Vancouver, Canada
HKWALLS 2018: Part 1 (Hong Kong)
HKWALLS 2018: Part 2 (Hong Kong)
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Culture Saves Lives: Drum Circle & Art by Alexa Black

I shot this video while checking out a drop-in activity associated Culture Saves Lives, a non-profit group dedicated with trying to connect people, particularly marginalized indigenous people, with their culture. While walking past their building in Vancouver’s gritty Downtown Eastside neighborhood. I was attracted by the chanting and drumming coming from within. I asked the guy standing in the doorway (the guy on the far right of the picture below) what was going on and he replied that it was an informal jam, that people were just there to hang out and that most of the guys were his family members and that I was welcome to come in.

Drum Circle at the Culture Saves Lives community center in Vancouver

Inside the room, —which functioned as an art gallery (The Window Community Art Shop), a performance space and simply a safe place to hang out—the walls were covered with paintings for sale, mainly by a self-taught artist, Alexa Black.

Bone Weaver: Mixed media art by Alexa Black

Alexa Black, an artist of Métis and Mestizo ancestry, usually works with mixed-media, combining oil painting and photography with elements of the natural world: bones, leather, antlers, flowers and feathers. She uses such materials to honor the natural world and its cycles. In nature, many of these element – bones, animal hides, antlers and feathers – also serve as a kind of protection. They can represent the strength and resilience of nature. However, there is also an element of fragility and impermanence.

Mixed media art by Alexa Black

There was a nice positive vibe at the centre, but my daughter wanted to move on to see other things, so I just took a few minutes of video and a couple of snapshots.

Go Further

Three Questions

  1. How do you feel about the mixed media works on this page?
  2. How would you interpret the first work of art, Bone Weaver? What message do you think the work sends?
  3. How can contemporary art, which is often concerned with exploring new techniques and breaking boundaries, revitalize traditional cultures?

Art Challenge

Create a mixed media work using materials from the natural world.


~video, photos and text by

artjouer

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