Naoto Kawahara

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I produce paintings with the belief that a painter must enter the unknown. The current series of paintings are of a classical style and subject matter, but they also mark my entrance into the unknown. I intend to hang onto the rediscovery of expressionistic spirit, and to my observations of the physiological elements and embodiedness that I realized in making these works.

Naoto Kawahara

Kawahara has long produced photorealistic paintings that faithfully reproduce people, landscapes, and scenes from films and photographs around him. In recent years, he has made references to classic works by Dürer, Balthus, Cranach, Degas, Munch, Bonnard, and Pieter Claesz, using different models and re-envisioning the scenes in new paintings.

For “Torso” and “Nude e ombra”, Kawahara has focused on the Meiji era painter Busho Hara (1866–1912). In regards to Hara’s works, Kawahara has commented, “They have an expressionistic spirit that strangely combines the feeling of uncertainty regarding life (or sex), as seen in Munch’s Puberty (1894-95), with a glimmer of hope.” Kawahara’s series takes as its theme, the pursuit of the reciprocal embodiedness, which exists within the classical air of Hara’s paintings.

Naoto Kawahara
Torso, 2015
Oil on canvas
65.5 x 46 cm

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Naoto Kawahara
Nudo e ombra, 2015
Oil on canvas
91 x 65.5 cm

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Naoto Kawahara
Swinging Nude, 2016
Oil on canvas
73.1 x 53 cm

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Naoto Kawahara
Classic Torso, 2019
Oil on canvas
53 x 41.5 cm

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Naoto Kawahara
Memento Mori, 2004
Pencil on paper
29.7 x 42 cm

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Naoto Kawahara
Reclining Nude, 2004
Pencil on paper
23.7 x 33.2 cm

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Naoto Kawahara
Nu, 2004
Pencil on paper
23 x 31 cm

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Naoto Kawahara
Nude with Raised Arms, 2004
Pencil on paper
31.1 x 23 cm

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At the artist’s studio
At the artist’s studio

Naoto Kawahara (Tokyo, 1971) is an artist based in Tokyo. After he worked as an industrial designer, Kawahara studied at the Lorenzo de Medici Institute in Florence. He has participated in the group exhibitions, “Everybody is Crazy, But Me”, Maison Particulière, Brussels (2016), “Biennial of Painting / Biënnale van de schilderkunst,” Museum van Deinze en de Leiestreek, Deinze (2014), “The Figure and Dr. Freud,” Haunch of Venison, New York (2009), “Diana und Aktaion: Der Verbotene Blick auf die Nacktheit,” Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf (2008) and “Attention to Detail,” The FLAG Art Foundation, New York (2008). His solo exhibitions have included Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo (1999, 2001, 20032005, 2008, 2015) and Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp (2007, 2012).

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