NAOYA Japanese, b. 1958

NAOYA (b. 1958) began his artistic career in Japan as an assistant to his father, Nagae Rokuya, a major figurative sculptor who worked in wood. Nurturing his own creativity in this familial context, NAOYA cultivated a personal style and his own creative concepts, shaping representational figures out of wood that express his own philosophical worldview. 

Today, NAOYA populates the imaginary world that he designs, which he calls POLYKANTEN, with fairy-like children, animals with human personalities, and animistic goddesses. The creatures are all related, he says, though each one has its own reason for being. A main character, PEPO, loves marshmallows, is an only child, shy, and can dance. PEPO travels freely through space-time, traverses the many different planes of the universes, and has a head visually represented by the Pepo-Kabocha, a type of squash. The symbolic meanings of the characters’ visual forms reveal themselves as one learns more about their personalities and roles in the multiverse narrative. PEPO is accompanied by TOKO-chan, who loves apple pie, picture books, and is slightly stubborn; KIKO-chan, who gets cold and lonely easily, and dreams of befriending a cat on Earth; P-chan, who loves candy, taking walks, is resolute and sisterly; and many more. These unique characters all hail from the world of POLYKANTEN, this parallel place where boundaries and dimensions are fuzzy, chaos and order seem synonymous, and creative innovation seems unbounded. 


The monochromatic figures, painted entirely in white, stare at viewers with curious and blank expressions, begging for questions about the other worldly places they occupy. Believing in the possibility and potential of multiple universes, NAOYA creates these characters to visit with us here on Earth. And, in this special exhibition, we have a fleeting moment in which to meet them and dream ourselves into another world through honed artistic skill and sharpened imagination.