Naima Morelli

Can Nudists be shy? Kawamura Gun say yes

Once a friend of mine said to me: “I don’t really like funny art”

We were arguing on Pino Pascali, the Italian artist working in the seventeen, mostly known for his sculptures. Not exactly Canova’s style. Something like “Walt Disney going mad”, I mean, whale tales sprouting from the floor, brush caterpillars, pregnant canvas, that sort of things.
I not agree with my friend (who wasn’t Clement Greenberg anyway).
For me, art have to be game. A quest sometime. Something that could catch your imagination.
It’s better if art don’t take herself to seriously. I mean, not even stupid. Just intriguing. 

So, this Sunday I went to the 291 Est Gallery in Rome to disintoxicate myself from all the German Art I’ve seen last week. I really needed something that could loose me from the ubiquitous ghosts of conceptualism. I mean, conceptual art is good, but in small doses.

I found out this painting exhibition who’s named “Nudisti Timidi Liberi d’Intorno a Te” – Free Shy Nudists all around you.
Funny name. Worth a visit.
I don’t remember when was the last time I’ve seen something looking at the pictures on the wall during a vernissage but, I’m sure, it has been a long time ago.
This time it seems that the visitors were really interested to make friend with the subjects of this painting, The Shy Nudists. These characters just inspired an emphatic feeling, like the screaming face on the “In the Court of King Crimson” cover.

Shy Nudists is already an oxymoron. This nude people in the painting cover their face with gauze bandages indeed. Just the mouth comes out, and it’s a huge mouth with red lips ad big teeth and gums. All this characters are eating sushi or porchetta or they run trough these cities painted in a powerful comics style. Some of them run and eat at the same time and they seemed scared for something, or rather excited, maybe just angry.

The artist was around, so I could ask him some questions about his work.
The artist himself was a character.
In the way he was dressed he seemed jump out from a seventeen’s movie, the lost brother of the Led Zeppelin or the Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Red bell bottom pants, flower shirt with a pin on it pushing his movement “Free Shy Nudists”, and a Japanese face under a waterfall of black smooth hair.
That’s Kawamura Gun.
I was not surprised to know he plays in a band, but he want to make suddenly clean: “I hate stereotypes”. So don’t try to call him whatever you would to call him, because he’s not. You understand?

Anyway, he was very gentle and he spoke very quietly. His Italian was perfect because he came in Italy long ago. He was born in Japan, then he moves from Tokio to London and studied to the Camberwell College of Arts and at the Blake College.

“Why did you decide to came to Italy?” I asked him
“Because, you know, in Italy there was nothing”
“So you think that from nothing could rise something”
“I’m waiting for a momentous movement that could change art’s rules. Like the Transavanguardia. I really appreciate the Transavanguardia, especially Clemente and Cucchi, but I don’t like very much Achille Bonito Oliva. I think he’s too skilled with words and often he makes worthless exibitions.”
“I actually see something of Clemente and Cucchi in your paintings. Maybe could be the powerful colours. It seem you want to strike the observer’s eye. You succeed in it. Your black is very dark and your red is very strong. Like comics, graffiti or cartoons. The perspectives, the angle you choose for the architecture is very cartoon style. So pop, in a funny way. I like it.”

Even the titles of the painting seems coming out from a strip: “Shy nudists forgot playing hide & seeks, dancing and eating Takoyaki on Via del Pigneto, Roma” , “Shy nudists eat Zaruzoba as you see.” “Biwa Player on the Toyota 2000GT (Be quiet while she plays it)”
The urban spaces are the key of the entire painting’s mood, they are always urban situations, it doesn’t matter if it is Rome, Tokio, London or New York.

Many people came to the exhibition wants to know more about the subject of the paintings. Personally, I don’t give a damn of who this shy nudist are. I don’t need for someone telling me a story. This characters live by theirselves. Their deprivation of identity by the bandages is the is their strong point.
They could be everyone so everyone, with a little bit of irony and desire to play, could be them.


Naima Morelli

Galleria 291 Est

Viale dello Scalo San Lorenzo 45, Roma

01.04.2012 – 14.04.2012

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