548 West, New YorkMay 9 - 12, 2024

The Beauty of the Ordinary

Naomi Nishizawa, Our new sky, 2021, Rock color, hemp paper, gold leaf, oil-based alkyd resin paint, 80.3✕65.2✕2cm

From people sipping coffee in cafés, children frolicking outside, to the bustling city sidewalks, these snapshots of our everyday lives— although mundane, hide within them the magic and beauty of the small things in life. While for us, perhaps, these moments do not conjure up artful images in our heads, for Japanese artist Naomi Nishizawa, however — the ordinary and habitual is what fosters the inspiration behind her paintings. Nishizawa, an artist based in Japan but who has exhibited in France and Portugal, creates artworks that are “in tune with one's emotions and feelings”. She believes in the transportational quality of artistic creation, and experiments with complex materials and textures that are not restricted by any defined style. In this week’s FOCUS news, we hope to shine a light on the ways in which Nishizawa unveil the ordinary magic of our everyday lives through her experimental paintings.

Naomi Nishizawa, Perfume of Rain, 2022, Aluminum leaf, oil-based alkyd resin paint, sliver leaf, aluminum leaf, rock color, 80.3✕65.2✕2cm

Nishizawa is first and foremost inspired by the fusion between mankind and nature. According to herself, she finds the scent of a city after rainfall particularly captivating as it creates a bond between the metropolitan setting and traces of nature. The motif of the flowers and plants, representing grace, beauty, and new life, is one that is extremely prevalent throughout her works. In the mixed media, ‘Perfume of Rain’ (2022), Nishizawa applies aluminium leaves onto a canvas of Oil-based resin paint. The waterfall of blue shades, cascading across the canvas, not only symbolise the pouring of rain, but furthermore represent the “blue colour of the East”. Here, the linear movement of the rain trails are disrupted by geometric aluminium squares of different colours. This juxtaposition in form evokes the blurred outline of buildings and skyscrapers as if peering through a foggy window after rain. The choice of colour — pink, gold, and earthly tones, create a sensorial representation of the smell of rain - a mixture of musky moisture and soil. The painting, ‘Passing rain’ achieves a similar effect. This time, the fluid patterns of the resin paint are contrasted with circles of earthly colours. Flakes of aluminium, scattered diagonally across the artwork, reminds the viewer of a drizzle or rainshower, as if mimicking the pattering of raindrops as they hit the pavement.

Naomi Nishizawa, Passing rain | East, 2022, Pewter leaf, oil-based alkyd resin paint, aluminum leaf, rock color, 60.6✕60.6✕2cm

The artwork of Nishizawa experiment with a variety of diverse textures. The artist employs the Japanese painting technique of using foil, mineral pigments, and glue, all of which give her paintings a new dimension. This technique, blurring the boundary between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional, places emphasis on the physical interaction between mankind and nature. In several of her artworks, Nishizawa also combines these textures with Japanese paper (Hemp paper), cloth, and resin, which highlights the artist’s Japanese cultural heritage and background. In the artwork, ‘Window’ (2020), Nishizawa explores the combination of acrylic on wood. The painting features a large, dark-blue square that is placed at the center of the frame, as if representing a mysterious window into the unknown. All around, the viewer observes splatters and dashes of paint, which juxtaposes the geometric form of the square. Indeed, the artwork seems to suggest a striking balance between the peaceful and the chaotic of our mundane world.

Naomi Nishizawa, Moment, 2021, Hemp paper, brass leaf, rock color, oil-based alkyd resin paint, watercolor pencil, 45.5✕33.3✕2cm

As a featured artist of HongLee Curator, Nishizawa harnesses the power of the digital through her online exhibition: ‘The world of GOLD and SILVER’ (Oct 2022 - Dec 2022). The platform allows the virtual viewer to step into a digital art gallery to navigate through the various artworks of the artist. Towards the end of the gallery one also finds a poster with the artist’s biography, information, and exhibition details. The virtual exhibition, through the construction of a three-dimensional space, enables the viewer and art-lover to catch a glimpse of Nishizawa’s works in person, and experience first hand the ways in which her paintings interact with an open space. Take for example the artwork, ‘Moment’ (2021) which is placed against a navy-blue wall. From afar, one could almost draw resemblances between Nishizawa’s work and a Post-Impressionist still-life. However, as we move closer to the painting, we catch sight of the winding form of the flowers spiraling out of the vase in an other-worldly manner. Indeed, the virtual exhibition allows the viewer to detect the small yet crucial details in Nishizawa’s artworks which foster a more profound and holistic understanding of her creative corpus.

Naomi Nishizawa, 《A world of GOLD & SILVER》 Stories of another planet, 2021, 22.7✕110.6✕2cm

Written by Rose Wei