Kazu Nakagawa confounds labels. Noted for the creation of enigmatic worlds in miniature in various materials while also for imbuing large-scale projects with an almost mystical presence, Nakagawa’s Waiheke Library commission was awarded the Overall Supreme Award + Commercial Architectural Excellence Award in 2015. In Nakagawa’s hands, materiality becomes imprecise and absence matters, his works embracing the Japanese concept of ‘ma’ – the space between, the distance between, the room between or around things.
His studies were undertaken in Tokyo before immigrating to New Zealand in 1986 (by container ship, so he could ‘feel the distance’ of the journey) where he still lives on Waiheke Island. Having exhibited extensively, surveys were presented by Te Tuhi and The Dowse Art Museum, and recently exhibitions at the New Zealand Maritime Museum and Christchurch’s Scape. He has also undertaken collaborative projects with fashion designers, poets, composers and film makers. His work is in the Collections of The Dowse Art Museum, Christchurch Art Gallery and City of Christchurch, New Zealand Maritime Museum, New Zealand Embassy in Japan, and in numerous private collections in Australia, UK, USA, New Zealand.
Nakagawa’s art practice is informed by his fundamental philosophical positions. His materiality is determined by the conceptual underpinning of each work – he will employ as required: wood, metal, concrete, canvas, paint, graphite, paper, fabric – as well as more evanescent materials, shade and sound; the project ændǽnti (to go slowly) created a long-duration mass performative/participatory piece, engaging shade/shelter by way of transiently borrowed custom-made umbrellas, snaking around the coastline of Waiheke Island in the 2011 iteration of Sculpture on the Gulf.
While Nakagawa’s work is often described as minimalist, or rooted in architecture and its precepts, the artist’s own words belie these ready classifications: ‘I fall into another half [of my brain] which always makes things blur, so boundaries have less meaning. An architecture becomes a piece of paper or a piece of paper becomes an architecture. Several months of carving becomes a ‘blink’ of brush stroke. A moment becomes endless. It is actually a process of simplifying what I see, and in this way it is utterly incommunicable unless putting in an art form.’
Nakagawa lives and works on Waiheke Island, New Zealand.