kohei nawa foam (2)all photos by flickr user kzsktt36 | click to enlarge

Kohei Nawa’s latest work, which headlined the Aichi Triennale in Nagoya, is a large-scale installation of billowing foam clouds. Nawa spent weeks experimenting with concoctions of detergent, glycerin and water so as to create a foam stiff enough to hold shape, thus creating his installation “Foam”. Visitors were allowed to walk through a gymnasium-sized space filled with ever-evolving foam shapes that, in Nawa’s own words, “should feel like [you’re] walking through clouds.”

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Nawa (previously) has always been obsessed with materials, technology and manufacturing. But this latest work is a turn towards a more transient, shapeless installation. Actually, Nawa “is part of a new generation of artists whose work is helping to bring a more nuanced view of Japanese art and popular culture overseas,” writes Hiroko Tabuchi in a recent NYT feature. “One that moves beyond the cultural stereotypes of candy-cute manga and anime.”

“Maybe there was a time when artists benefited from, or used Japanese stereotypes in their work,” said Nawa. “But I think my generation no longer feels the need to identify with, or try to represent, Japan.”

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