Japan Official Participation at the 14th Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh 2010

NAWA Kohei(Artist)
HAYASHI Sumi(Commissioner)

Photo of Kohei Nawa
Kohei Nawa
2010 / mixed media
photo by Omote Nobutada
Courtesy of SCAI THE BATHHOUSE, Tokyo

Photo of Kohei Nawa
Kohei Nawa
2010 / mixed media
photo by Omote Nobutada
Courtesy of SCAI THE BATHHOUSE, Tokyo

The Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh was inaugurated as an international exhibition in 1981 with the participation of 14 Asian countries. It is one of the oldest international exhibitions in Asia, and now features artists from over 30 countries/regions in Asia and beyond.
Since its first edition in 1981, the government of Bangladesh has extended its invitation to Japan, and the Japan Foundation has organized the Japanese artists’ participation in response.
For the 14th edition, the Japan Foundation has appointed Hayashi Sumi, the chief curator of the Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art, as commissioner to feature the artist Nawa Kohei. Nawa, who has gained both national and international recognition in the recent years, will be producing a new site-specific work inspired by his experience of encountering Bangladesh and its people for the first time.


National Participation: Japanese Pavilion

Dates: October 8 (Fri.) – November 7 (Sun.), 2010
Venue: Osmani Memorial Hall, Bangladesh Silpakala Academy, Bangladesh National Museum
Organizer: Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy
Organised by: The Japan Foundation
Artists: NAWA Kohei
Commisioner: HAYASHI Sumi(Chief Curator, Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art)

Message from the Commissioner

In Japan today nearly 90% of the population text on cell phones, while train commuters increasingly prefer portable game machines over newspapers and manga magazines. The things people see are absorbed as mere information and quickly vanish without being processed. In such a superficial society, what role does visual art play?
Nawa Kohei, who represents Japan in this Biennale, will show new works that belong to the series called SCUM or SWELL. Toys and figures purchased in Dhaka will be used as molds to be dressed with a heavy coating of foamed polyurethane. The coating, in this case, is not a “garment” for shrouding and hiding things from our sight. It may be more pertinent to describe it as a membrane in its evolved form, resulting from the artwork reaching out to attain a new dimension. Nawa’s term for describing his work is “swollen skin,” a condition in which the object is not trapped inside, but is allowed to expand outward to gradually morph into something that is fundamentally different from its original form. In fact, while the work expands, its mass remains unchanged, and its content turns insubstantial, ultimately making the skin the only point of contact with the real world. What brings materiality to the work is not the presence of the object per se, but its shell, or its outer skin. And yet, standing before us is indeed a real image that unfailingly captures our eyes and mind.
This realistic and vivid visual experience, however weightless, is essentially what gives inestimable strength to Nawa’s work. In this world filled with uncertainties, this is simply the most effective measure that art can take. The skin merely awaits to be seen.


About the Participating Artist

NAWA Kohei
Sculptor / Associate Professor of Kyoto University of Art and Design, Director of SANDWICH
Born in Osaka in 1975. Completed a Ph.D in fine art (sculpture) at Kyoto City University of Art in 2003. With an awareness of outer layers or skins, NAWA Kohei transforms materials into different forms of expression as metaphors for perception and thought. He has been based at his new studio, called SANDWICH, in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto since 2009.
Winner of the Kyoto Cultural award in 2007, his works are highly acclaimed in Japan as well as overseas. He held his solo show "L_B_S" at Maison Hermès 8th Floor Le Forum, Tokyo in 2009. He has also participated in many international exhibitions, including Asia Pacific Triennial(2009/2010) and Busan Biennale(2010). His first museum solo show in Japan will be at the Museumof Contemporary Art, Tokyo in 2011.

About the Commissioner

Hayashi Sumi
Chief curator, Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art
Born in Hyogo prefecture. After graduating from the College of Liberal Arts, International Christian University, she joined the Museum in 1989 to prepare for its inauguration. She has curated a number of exhibitions, including “Is This Art?” (1998), “Sleeping / Dreaming / Awakening” (2002), “Robert Ryman” (2004), “Gerhard Richter” (2005) and “Mark Rothko” (2009).

For inquiries, please contact:

FURUICHI Yausko (Ms.)
Visual Arts Section, Arts and Culture Dept., The Japan Foundation
4-4-1 Yotsuya, Shinjku, Tokyo 160-0004
Tel: 03-5369-6062 Fax: 03-5369-6038

Page Top