Lot 1065
  • 1065

Nawa Kohei

1,800,000 - 2,800,000 HKD
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  • Nawa Kohei
  • PixCell - Greater Kudu
  • executed in 2012
  • taxidermied deer head, glass beads


SCAI the Bathhouse, Tokyo
Acquired by the present owner from the above


This work is generally in good condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

This work is accompanied with a certificate of authenticity issued by the gallery

Enconsced in Glass
Nawa Kohei

Nawa Kohei is a unique artist who has myriad titles: artist, sculptor, and creator. This unique outlook to art has garnered him international recognition for his oeuvre that spans across diverse media, filled with many pioneering concepts. In 2008, Nawa launched SANDWICH, a creative platform that showcases the works by young artists across a variety of art disciplines. Having exhibited his work across the globe, at prominent institutions including the Maison Hermès in Tokyo, the Galerie Vera in Hamburg, and at the Asia Pacific Triennial in Brisbane, it is an unquestionable fact that Nawa’s art has universal appeal. Moreover, Nawa Kohei’s recent participation in SCAI THE BATHHOUSE’s 25th anniversary show, “Making Links: 25 Years”, further solidifies his international renown, exhibiting alongside global artists of unparalleled importance, such as Lee Ufan, Murakami Takashi, and Anish Kapoor. The present lot on offer, PixCell Greater Kudu (Lot 1065) is a highly representative and mesmerising work, and showcases oen of Nawa’s most instantly recognisable creative methods.

Nawa Kohei is first and foremost a sculptor—albeit one with a twist. After graduating from Kyoto City University in 1998 with a BA in Fine Art Sculpture, Nawa spent a year at the Royal College of Art in London studying at a sculptural exchange programme. Between 1998 and 2003 he further pursued an MA, then a PhD in Fine Art Sculpture, followed by travelling and working between New York, Berlin and Japan. The current lot on offer comes from the artist’s sculptural PixCell series, a concept that he has been developing for more than a decade. The first prototype was exhibited at SCAI THE BATHHOUSE in 2010, when Nawa covered taxidermy deer with crystal glass spheres in a series initially called PixCell-Double Deer. Seeking to delineate his audience’s reception of the original deer, this series interrogated our concept of perception.

PixCell Greater Kudu is an enhancement of its predecessor, delving deeper into the motifs first laid out in the 2010 exhibition. Created in 2012, PixCell Greater Kudu is multifarious in its philosophy; a refined expression of the artist’s working style. Nawa begins with a search for a taxidermy animal from online websites, acquiring the animal, before covering it in glass beads of varying sizes. According to the artist, “our involvement with the outside world (the world) is through our senses and our bodies. We are aware of what our senses perceive, and call it ‘reality.’”1 The artist believes that when we doubt our realities and find cause to trust it, we struggle to “possess” it, must like how taxidermy is a means through which to “possess” or “capture” movement. The ensconcing of the original animal under glass beads challenges our ability to “store” the option, thus blurring our understanding and perception of it. 

This contrary and intriguing phenomenon is captured in the naming of the series - PixCell, the amalgamation of the words “Pixel” (picture element) and “cell”. First Nawa encounters the taxidermy he chooses in the form of a group of pixels—an image—on his compute rscreen. He then procures the animal itself, which he likens to physically downloaded into his studio. After covering the surface of the animal with crystal beads, the crystals act as multiple lenses through which to experience the object, at times even magnifying certain parts. 

Nawa’s PixCell BEAD works, such as PixCell Greater Kudu, investigates the notions of mass and space by discernibly presenting the kudu’s form. Yet in its crystal casing, the kudu exists paradoxically: it is both a representation of the animal, as well as the literal animal itself, which acts as a powerful metaphor for the very nature of taxidermy.   

The kudu’s (an antelope of African origin) form as recreated by Nawa is also undeniably captivating and graceful. Covered in numerous crystal balls and beads, the animal has been transformed and emits otherworldliness, as if glowing form within. They appear to emanate a holy glow not unlike mythical beasts, and are extremely alluring in their crystal encasing. The overall effect is exquisite, as if the antelope itself is merely an ephemeral mirage.

Nawa Kohei’s PixCell artworks are convergences of pixels and cells: the simplest forms of both the digital and organic worlds. In PixCell Greater Kudu, the lines between form and content are blurred, creating a mesmeric piece that is representative of Nawa’s oeuvre. As a sculptor, Nawa exhibits the unique ability to fuse fascinating concepts with diverse materials, creating works that are in equal parts contemplative and aesthetically alluring; delicate but structurally sound. As an artist, it is thus no doubt that Nawa Kohei will continue to play a key role on the stage of Contemporary Asian Art.   

Kohei Nawa – Synthesis  (Tokyo: Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, 2011), p.82.