Interview: Norico Nagaiwa
Luca Curci talks with Norico Nagaiwa during the 17th edition of VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2023, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello in Venice.
Norico crafts colours and images she encounters as she walks back into her past memories. Her works embody serenity and kind, warm eyes that she found comfort in as she went through hardship in the past. In the wake of an unexpected event, she shut herself from the world for several years. Through taking pictures, however, she started to feel her emotions awakened again. She felt the sensation of having colours and images overflow behind her eyes, corresponding to her heartbeat. She expresses it in her work, considering what she saw then as another world her heart revealed. What she expressed through her journey of self-discovery started to get recognized as “a new form of expression in photography” in 2014. On the other hand, a sense of discomfort eventually grew in her for getting her expression put in the frame of processed images. That led her to be determined to pursue the expression of emotional landscapes rather than the mere creation of works of photography, which became her beginning as an image artist.
In her first solo exhibition in 2016: Colors Overflowing, one of the visitors came up to her and thanked her, saying that her work gave them peace of mind, which she holds dear to her heart to this day. Since then, she has been actively exhibiting her work in group and solo exhibitions. In 2017, she received the Kurihara Gallery Award at the Tokyo Ikebukuro IAG Exhibition. After a short pause due to the pandemic, she has resumed participating in exhibitions again since the fall of 2021. In the fall of 2022, she held a solo exhibition at Kurihara Gallery for the second time, and in the same year, she received LUXEMBOURG ART PRIZE and was awarded for her distinguished work as an artist. Currently, She is actively spreading the place of overseas presentations not only in Japan but also in the United States and Italy. Placing a great emphasis on the act of “feeling”, she keeps sending messages through her work as she seeks something that makes her heart richer and gets inspired by her everyday life and all things with life.
LUCA CURCI – What is art for you?
NORICO NAGAIWA – For me, art stimulates my sensibility and nurtures my mind more abundantly. And by touching various expressions, I can strongly feel its diversity and infinity. in addition, art is the self itself that is released from the inside, and it is an existence that allows me to face myself through its expression, and dialogue, and know what kind of person I am.
LC – What are you working on now?
NN – I myself started to express myself in the form of making a work in order to heal my broken heart triggered by an event. I learned what I was looking for by putting out what I felt as it was. Unfortunately, our modern world can never be said to be a calm and gentle world. Even if I can’t change that world dynamically, I think I can feel happiness and joy from the days I live and share it. There are many things that I am given from nature and creatures in my daily life. And I have been healed by them. We value the eyes towards the small world of ordinary daily life, and I am working on making works with thoughts and wishes.
LC – Among the several techniques you use, which one do you prefer to practice and which of them are most compelling for you?
NN – All the materials of my work are photos. How to use the material so that it can be used is one of the important techniques. Because it’s important not for the machine to take pictures, but how much I can connect the material to the image I create. And the most important thing is to polish “my own sensibility to feel”. In Photoshop, which is another technical technique, the touch of delicacy and softness of the motif of the work, colours and tones that feel comfortable, and how to adapt these naturally and attract them.
LC – What do you think about art on social media? Are they turning into the new Showcases of contemporary art?
NN – I think that social media is highly valuable as a place where everyone can participate freely and disseminate information. I feel it’s attractive because I can appreciate and participate in art exhibitions from anywhere 24 hours a day. On the other hand, compared to taking time to appreciate the actual art in front of the work, I think there is a lack of presence that can only be captured in a flat part and lacks a sense of realism.
LC – What issues do you intend to deal with in the future?
NN – It will be a challenge that I want to work on in the future, but people who see my work always say, “What is this and how are you making it?” I want to improve the quality of the work that I feel. I want to think about what I can do, including techniques, to make a natural and beautiful work that does not make photos that are materials conscious, not in the category of collage and digital art.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this exhibition? How did it inspire you?
NN – For me, this exhibition was my first opportunity. First of all, I was strongly attracted to the name of the organization ITSLIQUID. It is fluid like a liquid, and at the same time, the flow is mixed with several lines. I had such an exciting feeling that it would be the starting point of the flow for me as well.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this event? How is it connected to the theme of the entire exhibition?
NN – In the painful and severe years of the Corona disaster that hit the world, everyone, including myself, lived with a sense of disappointment and despair. When I felt like darkness was dominating, I thought that at a time like this, people needed to remove the barriers of words and thoughts, and each of them needed to snuggle up with hope. I strongly felt that the role brought by art was the same, and I felt that it was a place where both artists and audience could understand people through various artistic expressions and mix like the flow of water in this exhibition hall. As I wrote in the Statement when I was forced to live a closed daily life or almost lost hope, I knew the importance of thinking about nature and creatures that are in my daily life, and I felt the happiness of living by putting my heart to them again. The work with the motif of these two birds is the love for them who saved my painful days brightly.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
NN – Yes. I think so. As I am an artist who has been looking for a place and chance to exhibit overseas, I am very happy and grateful that I was given the opportunity to exhibit my work. ITSLIQUID provides a great place to present all over the world, so I think it’s good for artists who want to expand overseas.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
NN – At first, there were many issues that I needed to clear because everything was the first time, and there were times when I was confused and thought about cancelling participation. However, I was very relieved because the staff’s and cooperator’s assistance (for transportation) was very kind and reliable. I am glad I didn’t give up on my first challenge.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID platform?
NN – I think it is not only a place to present my own work but also an attractive place where I can interact with artists from all over the world. In addition, I think it is a very good platform that can expand the possibilities of exhibition not only in one country but also widely all over the world. One of the attractions is that hold various exhibitions many times a year.