Kohei Nawa - 24/7: Online Auction Hong Kong Tuesday, July 20, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Catalogue Essay

    “What interests me is the parallel relationship between the object used as the motif and the object after it that has been transformed into a PixCell work. I am always thinking about how a person viewing the work perceives and becomes aware of image and materiality, and of the icon and the virtual image, and I also think about sight and the paralysis of touch. At the foundation of my works is life and the environment that envelops it.” —— Kohei Nawa 

    As an exploration of multiple dichotomies such as nature and artificiality, virtual and physical space, organic and inorganic, individual and whole, digital and real, living and dead; the present example, PixCell - Maria #16, is a compelling work exemplary of Japanese artist Kohei Nawa’s multidisciplinary oeuvre. The title itself is combined from the words “pixel”, the smallest unit of a digital image, and “cell”, the smallest unit of a living organism. 


    Kohei Nawa’s surreal, semi-abstract Pix-Cell series transposes found images and objects into reality. Nawa first encounters the object as a group of pixels -- an image on the computer screen. The source object is then covered with a layer of translucent glass beads. These spheres on the sculpture create a magnifying effect in varying degrees, offering a fragmented perspective of the object’s surface, distorting the original image. In the current example, Nawa reinterprets the iconic image of the Virgin Mary, with his unique style that allows the viewer to gaze into various details from multiple perspectives simultaneously, providing a visual experience involving a unique depth and continuity.


    Madonna del Granduca,  Raphael, c. 1506-1507, Uffizi Collection, Florence


    Through this series, Nawa aims to explore how computers have altered the experience of information consumption in today’s society. He explained that he started to “...think seriously about the question of why people would convert something into information and want to possess it. To turn that question into physical form, I created the sculpture format that I call PixCell. The fabrication process involved an irrational procedure (directly covering an object with spherical lenses) that would never become widespread on computer platforms. This optical format is not simply pixels returning to life as PixCell works. Rather, it resembles the relationship between an object observed by a telescope or microscope, or the subject photographed by a camera, and the photograph or image that results.” i 


    Kohei Nawa’s multidisciplinary works can be found in the public collections of prominent art institutions, including but not limited to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA); The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (Tokyo, Japan); and the National Gallery Victoria (Melbourne, Australia). Further, Nawa has been the recipient of innumerable prestigious awards, most recently winning the 32nd Kyoto Art Culture Award in 2019, an international award that recognises the highest achievements of individuals who have made great contributions to the fields of Advanced Technology, Basic Sciences, and Arts and Philosophy, with only one Prize awarded for each of the three categories. Nawa is currently an Associate Professor at the Kyoto University of Art and Design.



    i Kohei Nawa, as quoted in Marie-Charlotte Burat, ‘Interview Inside Kohei Nawa’s Bubble’, pen, 21 February 2021, online

    • Provenance

      Ierimonti Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      New York, Ierimonti Gallery, KOHEI NAWA: PixCell-Maria, 21 April - 30 June 2016


PixCell-Maria #16

mixed media
61 x 44 x 44 cm. (24 x 17 3/8 x 17 3/8 in.)
Executed in 2015.

Full Cataloguing

HK$380,000 - 550,000 

Sold for HK$504,000

Contact Specialist

Hin Hin Wong
Associate Specialist, 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
+852 2318 2013
[email protected]

24/7: Online Auction

Online Auction 21 - 30 July 2021