Koji Nagai was born in 1950 in Hiroshima. After graduating from Hiroshima Designer College he worked as graphic designer, attaining many awards in this field. He got into collage at a quite late stage, at the age of 35 but from that moment it became his main focus. His pieces distinguish themselves with masterful precision and his very own, distinctive, recognizable style. Koji Nagai’s collages reflect many inspirations. There is fascination with Japanese poster from 60s and 70s as well as with European avant-garde classics of the 1920s. As the artists himself admits, he is a big fan of Tadanori Yokoo, Max Ernst and Kurt Schwitters.
The subjects that the artist undertakes are the result of interest in traditional japanese art and fascination with popculture and fashion. Nagai often juxtaposes two opposite worlds: old and new, reality and fiction, life and death. Yet, despite this diversity his art is very consistent.
The big amount of details and technical excellence make Koji Nagai’s collages similar to viewing Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings. They could also be likened to observing world through magnifying glass. Similarly to Roman Cieślewicz, the Japanese artist joins in his collages reproductions of paintings of the Old Masters with cutouts from colorful magazines. Additionally, his art is connected with the place where he was born and where he resides to this day. There are two sites of World Heritage in Hiroshima Prefecture – the ‘A-Bomb Dome’, a symbol of prayer for world peace, and the mysterious sea temple Itsukushima Jinja. Both of these appear symbolically in various forms in his art.
Koji Nagai has participated in all editions of International Collage Exhibition organized by Retroavangarda.
The current solo exhibition in Retroavangarda Gallery Jerozolimskie Business Park showcases 88 pieces of the artist and is the biggest exhibit of his art in Europe. The exhibition features original pieces executed in traditional, manual collage technique as well as large format digital pieces. It is a unique chance to get familiar with the richness of creativity of this splendid artist. The exhibition will be open until the end of September 2021.
Interview with Koji Nagai: koji-nagai-interview-with-a-contemporary-collage-artist
text by Anna Kłos, translation by Karolina Kłos