Interview: Makotu Nakagawa
Luca Curci talks with Makotu Nakagawa during LONDON CONTEMPORARY ART FAIR 2021 at THE LINE Contemporary Art Space.
What comes after death? This age-old question has been the cornerstone for many artists over the years. So far Makotu Nakagawa has approached the subject with intimacy, clarity and graphic representation, depicting his father and his body through numerous stages of life, death and the spaces in-between. Makotu was born in a rural town in Japan when his father was 50 years old. For that reason, he grew up feeling the anxiety that his father will die in the near future. After completing his aesthetics degree at Keio University in Tokyo, he kept taking pictures for over ten years with only his father as a subject. When his father died, he put together a series of portraits, bodies, and remains he had taken. After that, he set aside the large format camera for the analog film he had been using and challenged the digital camera. In order not to re-present what once existed, but to follow traces that never existed such as noise (bug, digital debris, error, crash, distortion, dissonance). The work is the only way for him to accept the ‘foreign matter’.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Makotu Nakagawa – For me before, art is a way to get to know reality better. My aim was to scoop up ‘presence’. However, since I started using digital cameras this time, it is shifting to accepting ‘foreign matter’.
LC – What are your thoughts while you work? Do you have any habits or rituals while you work?
MN – I think about things that are rambling until I start working on my work. However, once I started the production, I don’t think about anything. I have no particular customs or rituals.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
MN – In the sense that “something breathes life into the work”, I will not be inspired by something to make a work. However, there are so many artists I have been influenced from Jan Groover, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Mokkei, Tohaku Hasegawa, Shiryu Morita, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko, Robert Ryman, and many many more.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
MN – Creating a work, I have to throw away creative moods, ideas, internal refining, and even myself. That is more difficult than anything. Although, I do not know if the attempt is successful in my work.
LC – How do you feel when you see your work completed?
MN – I am attacked by a great sense of emptiness.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
MN – Yes, I agree with those two. The Japanese essayist Kamo no Chomei said: “The flow of the river is incessant, and yet its water is never the same”. This expresses the ‘acceptance of impermanence’ that we Japanese have. I think it will lead to ‘LIQUID’ which is the basis of your artistic vision and “hybridization between identities and settings” which is the theme of the festival.
LC – We were attracted by your last artistic production, has the artwork presented been created for the festival or as a part of preexisting works?
MN – As a part of preexisting works. I set aside the large-format film camera that I have been using for over 15 years and tried a new digital camera. So I decided to participate in this festival.
LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
MN – I think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
MN – Yes, I was very excited. Thank you for this opportunity.
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
MN – I would suggest it to an emerging artist like me.