Kohei Nawa Takes Over Europe

Recognize Kohei Nawa’s art from Big Bang’s music videos?


Crystalline structures that depict breath-taking stags, fluffy foam-like structures that rise and fall like waves. Japanese artist Kohei Nawa’s works never fail to amaze their audiences and now, they’ve taken on Europe.

One might recognize the deer in the image above from several social media boards, from Instagram to Tumblr or even Bigbang’s music video for their song “Bae Bae”.  

A globally acknowledged contemporary artist, Kohei Nawa has collaborated with several other artists of his time such as Takashi Murakami and Anish Kapoor, and has even created headpieces for fashion brand Commes des Garçons’s Spring/Summer 2012 runway show.

Pace London // Commes Des Garçons
Pace London // Commes Des Garçons

Born in 1975, Osaka, Japan, Kohei Nawa attended the Kyoto City University of Arts, earning both a master’s and a doctoral degree in sculpture. Ever since a young age Nawa had been interested in the arts, and later on in his high school years, architecture and physics, which combined his creative abilities to devise structures that had elements of both pleasingly aesthetic and striking form that took three dimensional art to a whole new level. A key factor in the distinctiveness of each of Nawa’s pieces is the risk he takes with materials. Nawa was never afraid to use unconventional materials, from prism sheets to epoxy resin to mixtures of detergent, glycerin, and water.

Nobutaoa Omote for Sandwich Images
Omote Nobutada for Sandwich Images

In his newest exhibition at the Pace Gallery in London, there’s a variety of works from paintings, sculptures, and installations, all from his previous collections Direction, Ether, Catalyst, and Moment. The theme of the show is “the visualization of gravity that is present in the cosmos,” a topic that Nawa loved to explore since he was a child. Although all the works come from different series and utilize different materials, they are all cohesive in that movement, direction, and gravity are all key factors in the construction and operation of the pieces.

Omote Nobutada
The amazing Kohei Nawa (Omote Nobutada)

Kohei Nawa’s first installation in the United Kingdom, Force, is a part of the She Inspires Art. The event is a night when artists from all around the world come to perform at the fundraising event for the charity Women for Women International, who’re currently working to aid the women in Nigeria and Syrian refugees in Iraq, a movement that Nawa joined because he wanted to “create an installation that uses artworks as metaphors for the distortions of our society and the limitations of economies driven by consumption.”

While Nawa is not the first Asian artist to entrance the Western eye for his work, his own take on contemporary art has marked a milestone in Japan’s art market, which has only recently joined the world in the modern gallery and art system. Nawa is able to fuse the traditional principles of Japanese art with modern materials, reaching new creative heights which neither the eastern nor western hemispheres have seen before.


– Seiyeon Park (’17)

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