A perfect match – Nao Matsunaga and the Daiwa Foundation Gallery

Nao Matsunaga My Primal Memory

I’m really embarrassed it’s taken me so long to get to Nao’s Matsunaga’s exhibition at the Daiwa Foundation- after all he’s a London-based Japanese artist, so I should have headed straight down there when it opened in October. But I’m even more embarrassed that I’ve never been to the Daiwa Foundation Gallery before, especially as I liked it so much when I did finally go.

It’s in Cornwall Terrace, near Baker St tube, a Grade-I listed Regency terrace next to Regent’s Park. The gallery space is in two rooms; the Park Side Gallery that looks out on the park and the Mews Gallery that looks out onto a rather nice mews. The Park Side Gallery has a wonderful wooden floor that’s just made for dancing the tango and the Mews Gallery has a thick eau-de-nil carpet. It’s all quiet and peaceful and harmonious.

Daiwa Foundation Gallery

Both rooms offer a perfect setting for Nao Matsunaga’s attractive ceramic sculptures and drawings. I really liked the way the elements in the rooms had been used to set off the sculptures to best effect – like the Legs series displayed along the windowsill and in the fireplace:

Nao Matsunaga Legs series

Nao Matsunaga Legs

Nao Matsunaga Legs

Nao Matsunaga Legs

or No Evil Here Please, cheekily displayed above the door:

Nao Matsunaga No Evil Here Please

Nao Matsunaga is originally from Osaka but grew up in the UK, got his BA in wood, metal, ceramics and plastics from Brighton University and his MA in Ceramics and Glass at the Royal College of Art. He’s won the Jerwood Makers Open 2012, a Cove Park Residency, the Anglo-Sweden Society Bursary and a Leverhulme Trust grant. And he’s in the Crafts Council collection.  So he’s not doing too badly for a thirty-two year-old.

The exhibition is called My Primal Memory and it’s about what it’s like to have a dual cultural and national identity. I felt some of the drawings had a Japanese feel to them, for example these two from the Playground and Conversation with Mr Jarrett series:

Nao Matsunaga drawing

Nao Matsunaga drawing

But perhaps it was the sense of harmony that made me feel like that. For instance in this sculpture, Peaks 2012:

Nao Matsunaga Peaks

or this one, Stand!!:

Nao Matsunaga Stand!!

If you want a break from the nightmare of Christmas shopping on Oxford St this is the perfect place to come for spiritual refreshment, particularly if you are free on 6th December, when London-based shamisen player Hibiki Ichikawa will be performing in the Gallery, with a drinks reception afterwards. (It’s free but book in advance on the Daiwa website).

The exhibition is on until 13th December so you’ve got a fortnight left. Sorry I didn’t tell you about it sooner.

Nao Matsunaga is  represented by Marsden Woo Gallery, London.

Daiwa Foundation Gallery

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