Meet our multi talented friend, Naoya Kawakami, affectionately known as Nao, a Japanese artist and musician hailing from the vibrant city of Tokyo.
Nao's artistic brilliance shines through in his paintings, where he masterfully blends pop culture with the captivating charm of lowbrow art. His unique approach infuses humour into his creations, resulting in a playful twist that has garnered admiration not only in Japan but far beyond its shores. Nao's work has graced various platforms, including album covers, galleries, and clothing lines.
But Nao's creativity doesn't end there! He is also a musician and leads the band, BOBBY'S BAR. Their music can best be described as a bewitching fusion of voodoo spook-a-billy and horror-themed surf instrumentals, making their live performances a mesmerising show. With high-energy shows and a captivating stage presence, their gigs often transcend into spellbinding performance art, leaving the audience yearning for more.
Where are you from and where are you currently based
I am from Chiba, Japan and based in Tokyo.
Can you tell us a bit about your creative background and how you became interested in art and music
I started playing in a band because of the influence of friends around me. I remember it was right around the time the Sex Pistols reunited. While in the band, I naturally became interested in art through the record cover art, T-shirts, and culture that accompanied the band. However, it wasn't until more than 10 years after I started the band that I started painting.
What or who are your main sources of inspiration for your artwork
Movies, music, old posters and magazine advertisements. I also like old toys and sundries, and am inspired by visiting antique markets.
How would you describe your artistic style to someone who's never seen your work before
Is it a humorous, creepy, cute paintings?
What are some of your favourite techniques or mediums to work with, and why
I paint mainly with acrylics, but I also like things with a little gimmick in them. I also do eye-catching pieces, VELVET paintings, and have recently started to do a little oil painting as well.
Are there any artists or art movements that have had a significant impact on you as an artist
It is still Ed Roth. I am also influenced by Robert Williams and lowbrow art that seems to have surrealism in it. I am also influenced by silkscreen artists such as KOZIK.
What can we expect to see from you in the future? Any upcoming projects or exhibitions
Most recently, a company called Blackdots released the first soft vinyl that I designed, and I had Rocki'n jelly bean, whom I adore, draw the art for the band's single. I am currently doing a show in Japan with a psychobilly band, KINGKURT, and in October, MARCEL BONTEMPI from Germany will come to Japan and we will do a show together. I am planning to have a solo exhibition at BLACK PERLES in Harajuku from October 2023. Also, I have started to make the second stage of soft vinyl.
How long have you been making music
I started playing guitar as late as high school. The band I still play in, BOBBY'S BAR, has been going on for over 20 years.
How would you describe your band's music to someone who's never heard your music before
GARAGE PUNK, psychobilly, and surf instrumental music with a hybrid instrumental sound with horror tastes.
Does your music influence your art in any way
Of course. They interact with each other.
To see more of Nao's work click here