Another contemporary artist whose work is often associated with James Rigler, is Nao-Matsunaga. In fact, Nao and James have even collaborated together; both being resident Marsden Woo Gallery ceramic artists, they showed their work alongside each other at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2014, which was a feature at that year’s London Design Festival. The pieces which they created for the exhibition were inspired by the many new and historic pieces and architectural elements which make up the V&A, or have been featured there over the years.
Born in Japan in 1980, Nao Matsunaga was educated at the University of Brighton, and received a MA for his studies at the Royal College of Art. Nao’s piece for the festival was a monolithic structure which alludes to an obelisk. Yet from behind it appears to be more like a cardboard cut out of a large rock, and it features two holes which suggest eye holes. The piece was entitled ‘Live Up/Blank Totem’ and is grey and textured to appear as though it has a moon-like surface.
Nao’s gets his inspiration from contemporary and Neolithic architecture, and he is fascinated with ceremonial relics, areas and rituals. Nao Matsunaga explores the balance between the structured and the organic, which can be seen in his stylized outlines and the way he juxtaposes the abstract with the familiar. He takes a closer look at the interaction between indivduals and their environment or materials, breathing new life into mundane objects as though to give them new, separate meaning. It has been said that “his practice speaks of enduring human concerns and personal and collective experience.”
Like Rigler, Nao has also been a resident at Scotland’s Cove Park. He has also served a residency at the University Art Museum in Arizona State, as well as Detroit’s Cranbrook Academy of Art.