Artist Tetsuya Nakamura's use of a wide range of materials and techniques in his work characterizes eclecticism.His Golden Turtles sculpture is a stuffed gold-plated sea creature,while a piece called Pop Off is an integration of colorful painted trophies. Yet,each piece shares in common a spirit of strength,authority and challenge. Nakamura skillfully processes the skin of his objects using unmatched gold plate,paint,shells and other materials to subvert our expectations of aesthetic construction.The sense of contradiction his art conveys is thought-provoking and completely original.
The stuffed turtle,for example,makes its home in a stately residence that bespeaks wealth and power,but is stuffed with cotton and other objects,and plated with gold.Rather than making a statement, the work seems to possess the swagger of a child or animal.
His new work, "Replica" shares this spirit. This six-meter-long jet-shaped sculpture conveys the all-important impression that it can fly faster than anything. Actuary,its aerodynamically refined hollow form, built using very little wood and Styrofoam,was not scientifically designed. The form can be appreciated for its attitude,without regard for hidden meanings.
The view that most art,be it painting, sculpture and other media,is devoid of content and practical purpose, is deceptive. The Greek philosopher Plato,in the beginning of Volume 10 of "State", reflects upon the function of an artist by using the analogy of a sofa. A sofa's real nature, our image of it, is the "idea," a craftsman creates an original interpretation or reconstruction of that idea,and a painter creates an imitation of the sofa maker's imitation of the idea. The painter's work is thereby three generation removed from real nature.
Let's apply this concept of idea to Nakamura's artwork. The idea that is his reference point demonstrates authority, but treating the surface of the sea turtle and trophies which are his representative works is an attempt to subvert that authority by making light of the idea. The artist attacks the idea that fine art and technical art are anything but deceptive.
The idea behind "Replica" is that it flies faster. Still,the sculpture's metallic wine-red papier-mache finish might make people question, with good reason, whether it actually can get off the ground at all. Unlike "Sea Turtle"and "Trophies","Replica"is purely a product of its creator's imagination. "Replica"is original,rather than an imitation of an idea.
In this way,"Replica" opens a door to a labyrinth of allure and paradox. Whether spectators comprehend the meaning of "Replica"or not, its a vehicle through which its audience can unconsciously become attuned to its creator's intentions and sensibility.
(Makoto Murata writes about art for various publications)