Clay and metal (8.5″ x 9.5″ x 5″), digital pigment print (12.5″ x 16.5″)
“My work explores perception and interpretation of cultural icons through strong references to art history. Having spent the first half of my life—during my formative years—in Japan, and the other half in North America, I am very interested in the relationship of perception, ritual, and interpretation to cultural identity.
Personally, I identify with dual cultures; a mixture of old traditions and sensibilities inherent in Japan along with contemporary experiences from the West. I am strongly influenced by my upbringing with Japanese sensibilities Wabi and Sabi as meditative aesthetics, while my recent experiences in Western American culture, without such a strongly embedded historical, favor experimentation and a sense of discovery. The Western culture that is not as regimented as Japan allows for hybrid identities, overlapping narratives, and virtual realities which strongly influence the ideas embedded in my work.
The most recent body of work explores the recontextualization of historic artifacts in the contemporary world and how this parallels my explorations in cultural identity. Prehistoric Art is often connected to the primitive arts of “non-civilized” peoples, both understood as fundamental components of daily life and religious experience, yet without artistic value. As an artist, I value those visual arts that are driven by the games of possibilities of matter and form. Imitation and realism, interacting with the uncertain figuration and abstraction are fundamental aesthetics that the prehistoric art influences my own art practice. I am appropriating historic forms from art history such as the Haniwa figure as a representation for a culture, but removed from the context in from which the meaning and identity is developed. This duality – of the historic figure and contemporary presentation further represents my ongoing search for personal/cultural dual identity in a culture of increasing global influences and contradictions.”
– Nobuhito Nishigawara