The seventh exhibition in the Institute of Contemporary Art's Momentum series features Japanese artist Misaki Kawai. Momentum examines new developments in contemporary art, inviting artists from the U.S. and around the world to create new work for the ICA. Kawai is known for her quirky, whimsical installations created in painstaking detail out of papier-mâché, wood, fabric, and other low-tech, "crafty" materials. Momentum 7: Misaki Kawai will be on view from March 28 – July 8, 2007. 

"The Momentum gallery is a space that is continually transformed by artists who are testing new waters," says Jill Medvedow, Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art. "'Misaki Kawai's energetic installations, like the work of all our Momentum artists, immerse visitors in the artist's unique vision."

For the Momentum series, Kawai presents Space House, a futuristic party pad that is part diorama and part dollhouse. The installation consists of a floating, multi-room home with living pods connected by a winding monorail. Space House is populated by handmade figures of Kawai and her friends as well as some of the artist's favorite cultural icons and a few furry creatures. The compound comes with everything one might find in a luxury home: an exercise space, hot tub, karaoke lounge, music studio, patio, and even a cat romper room.

Kawai's artistic style grows out of her earliest influences. Her father was an architect and amateur painter, and her mother made clothing and puppets. Kawai has taken this interest in handicraft, added her fascination with Western pop culture, and mixed it with an architectural sense of space.  What results is Kawai's mischievous vision of the world. Despite their somewhat child-like appearance, Kawai's sculptures are intricate microcosms seen through the eyes of a sophisticated artist. In addition to her installations, Kawai also creates videos, paintings, and drawings (even making minute drawings to exhibit inside her sculptures) that are also characterized by the artist's intentionally naïve technique and humorously absurd subject matter. 

Kawai's first solo gallery exhibition in 2002, Air Show at Kenny Schachter Contemporary, New York, consisted of a fleet of planes, made from old blankets and clothing, zooming through the gallery, leaving trails of cotton stuffing in their wake.  The largest plane, carrying several members of the Beatles, is flown by three versions of the artist.  An army green fighter jet, flown by Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, carries a miniature Casper the Friendly Ghost in its back hatch.  The show, which New York Times art critic Roberta Smith described as a "tour-de-force debut," introduced audiences to Kawai's playful aesthetic. 

"Kawai's installations are filled with surprising and delightful details," says Emily Moore Brouillet, Assistant Curator at the ICA.  "They grow out of her genuine desire to make things that she loves and places that she would like to see."

Most recently, Kawai made a new work for the Kantor/Feuer Window in New York.  Passers-by were able to look through portholes into a moon station where mad scientists work, performing mysterious experiments on Kawai's googly-eyed, fuzzy creatures.  Above, astronauts ride vehicles over the moon's craters.  Like all of the artist's installations, it is an energetic, somewhat haphazard creation, as Kawai eschews meticulous or fussy construction.

Born in Kagawa, Japan, in 1978, Misaki Kawai was raised in Osaka and studied at the Kyoto College of Art. Kawai has had solo exhibitions at Jack Hanley Gallery, San Francisco (2004); P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Queens, New York (2003); and at Kenny Schachter ConTEMPorary, NYC (2003 and 2002).  Her work has been included in group exhibitions such as Trunk of Humors at Deitch Projects, New York (2004); Greater New York 2005 at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; and Don't Abandon the Ship at Allston Skirt Gallery, Boston (2006).

The 2006-2007 Momentum series is sponsored by Sotheby's.

Momentum 7: Misaki Kawai is supported by Group Momentum: Nick Adams, Janice and Mickey Cartin, Rebecca and Martin Eisenberg, Corinne and Tim Ferguson, Sue and Nat Jeppson, Barbara Lee, Carol and Sol LeWitt, and Marlene and David Persky.

Related Program
Thursday, April 26, 6:30 pm, Uncover Thursdays: Meet Misaki Kawai. Discover the intricate world Kawai created for this exhibition, and hear how this artist produces her delightful work. Free tickets available on a first-come, first-served basis at the admissions desk one hour before the program. Space is limited.


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