New Artwork by Kohei Nawa

Japanese artist 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

artjouer

Return to Artjouer’s Gallery of Artists

Living Sculptures at Mosaïculture Gatineau 2018

I shot the above video during a visit to the MosaicCulture Gatineau exhibition in Quebec, Canada. The giant living sculptures featured at the exhibition were created by growing thousands of annual bedding plants on steel armatures. The steel from provides the basic form of the sculpture. Like topiary, mosaiculture is a kind of horticultural art (i.e., art made from living plants), but it is this use of metal frames that makes mosaiculture unique.

The themes of the exhibition were heritage (with a focus on indigenous culture) and nature. The 45 sculptures at the exhibition were made made using 5.5 million plants.

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: Polar bear and howling wolf

One of the centerpieces of the exhibit was this stunning sculpture: Mother Earth — The Legend of Aataentsic.

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: Mother Earth, the Legend of Aataensic

The goddess Aataensic is the most important figure in the creation myth of the Huron people, but she is quite a dark deity. It was one of her two sons, Iouskeha, who sought to aid and nurture humans, making rivers and lakes and teaching humans to grow crops, hunt and use fire. Aataentsic, in contrast, brings death and disease, and she and controls the souls of the dead.

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: Mother Earth, the Legend of Aataensic

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: Mother Earth, the Legend of Aataensic

The following two sculptures present traditional trades.

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: The Lobster Fisherman

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: The Prospector

Two large sculptures celebrated Chinese culture. One, of a lion dance, is shown below (this photo only shows one part of it).

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: Joyful Celebration of Nine Lions

The sculptures are surprisingly heavy. For example, each of the 56 birds in the Bird Tree sculpture, another centerpiece of the exhibition, weighs between one and three tons (unfortunately, I didn’t get any great shots of the whole tree).

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: The Bird Tree

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: The Bird Tree

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: The Bird Tree

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: The Bird Tree

The living sculptures were created by teams of landscape architects, engineers, horticultural mosaic artists and sculptor-welders. As many of the plants are seasonal, the appearance of some of the sculptures will change according to the season.

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: The Raven Mask

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: The Canadian Horse

The event was organized by Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal and was was held in Jacques-Carter Park (just across the river from Ottawa’s Parliament Buildings) from 25 July to 15 October 2018. The sculptures featured in the video are, in order of appearance:

  • Mother Earth — The Legend of Aataentsic
  • Wisakedjak and the Creation of the World
  • Born with the Sun
  • The Raven and Moon Masks
  • Bison (part of the Mother Earth display)
  • The Voyageur
  • Cellist and Ballerina
  • Jos Montferrand: A Giant from Gatineau
  • The Bird Tree
  • The Man Who Planted Trees
  • Canadian Horses
  • Chief of the Undersea World — Bill Reid’s Killer Whale
  • Polar Bear and Howling Wolf
  • The Lobster Fisherman
  • Three Ships from France
  • The Prospector
  • The Muskoxen
  • The Puffins
  • Joyful Celebration of Nine Lions
  • All Aboard! Engine CPR 374
  • The Winning Goal, Summit Series of 72
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police Horse and Rider
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • The Muskoxen
  • Snowy Owls
  • The Drum Dancer

Go Further: Website

Go Further: Video

  • Imaginary Worlds: Once Upon a Time: What’s Mosaiculture? A short video from the Atlanta Botanical Garden that shows shows how mosaiculture sculptures are made.

Three Questions

  1. Which of the sculptures is most attractive to you? Why?
  2. What are some advantages of creating art from living plants?
  3. What are the disadvantages?

Art Challenge

Create a mini-mosaiculture!


~video, photos and text by

artjouer

Return to Artjouer’s Gallery of Artists

 

Penticton Ancestors: Okanagan Lake Sculptures

Michael Dennis sculpture Penticton Ancestors (2009, cedar)

Penticton ancestors is a wonderful sculpture of three large figures on the shore of Okanagan Lake in the small city of Penticton, British Columbia. It was created by sculptor Michael Dennis and was installed in 2009. The figures represent the spirits of the past, and they do indeed make me think of benevolent ancient spirits that are there to guide and protect.

Penticton Ancestors: A sculpture by Michael Dennis (2009, cedar).

The sculpture  is a good example of public art that perfectly matches the surroundings. The figures are large enough that they aren’t dwarfed by the lake and hills in the background and the material—wood—is a good match for the natural scenery. Because they are carved from cedar, the figures will eventually change from brown to grey as time passes.

Michael Dennis’s lakefront sculpture Penticton Ancestors

The artist, Michael Dennis, lives on Denman Island BC. His sculptures of human figures—like the ones shown here—are smooth, flowing and minimalist. He originally worked in academia in the field of physiology before devoting himself to sculpting, so it is interesting that someone so familiar with the intricate details of the human form would adopt such a minimalist approach to sculpting that form. His brief artist’s statement sums up his approach well

SCULPTING THE SHADOWS OF ANCESTORS
I try to capture the essence of human gesture
from a tree
using only the minimum definition required
That in one piece the viewer may see
both human form
and form of tree
We do not need details of feature to respond
Consider the essence of the female form
the mother we know
the lover we seek
How few lines it takes to see her
(michaeldenn.is/about/)

Detail view of Penticton Ancestors

The colors and light in the photographs are a little unusual. That is because there was a lot going on in the sky when I was taking the photos—a sunset, a slight haze from a distant forest fire and the sudden appearance of storm clouds over the city. The sky over the lake looked like this:

Penticton: Okanagan Lake at Sunset

For more photos of Penticton and Okanagan Lake (as well as Kelowna and the KVR trail) , you can visit my Flickr galleries. This is a good page to start from: longzijun.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/lake-okanagan-photos/

Three Questions

  1. How well do you think the sculpture evokes the idea of ‘spirits of the past’?
  2. In his artist’s statement, Michael Dennis states that he hopes the viewer will see ‘both human form and form of tree’? Do you see both forms in Penticton Ancestors?
  3. What the are the benefits of having art in public places?

Art Challenge

Sketch a sculpture representing ‘spirits of the past’. In your sketch, include the surroundings where you would would want the sculpture to be placed.


~text and photos by

artjouer

Return to Artjouer’s Gallery of Artists