Japanese artist Shota Kawahara made his American debut recently with his first art exhibition titled “Inspiration,” which will run at the Lake Forest art gallery and retail shop Re-Invent until Sept. 29.
Shota’s journey to Lake Forest started when he met Re-Invent co-owner and Lake Forest High School graduate Kristin Mikrut while they were both resident artists at the Living in Peace Project in Karamea located on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand.
Mikrut returned to Lake Forest and opened Re-Invent in May 2012 with childhood friend and Lake Forest Academy graduate Cecilia Lanyon. Familiar with the depth of Shota’s diverse talent, Mikrut and Lanyon asked him to showcase his work in their hometown and to be Re-Invent’s first resident artist.
“My whole idea of being artist is to inspire people,” Shota said. “Not only by my art works but also by my way of living, traveling, sharing experience and passion.”
More than 10 volunteers from the Lake Forest community helped Shota prepare for his exhibition, which in addition to his “abstract landscape” paintings, features collaboration work with gallery co-owners Kristin and Cecilia and a video about the Living in Peace Project.
A portion of the proceeds from “Inspiration” also will benefit the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Rotary Club’s fundraising outreach for Rotary International tsunami relief efforts.
Before arriving in the United States, Kawahara traveled the world for the past seven years to find inspiration, experience and knowledge for his art. He also is a graduate of the Kyoto University art faculty.
On his website, Shota attributed nature as his biggest inspiration for his “abstract landscape style.”
Shota described the paintings as “vibrant, intense, highly worked in colorful detail, unique and uplifting.” The paintings featured over 30 individual colors with immense details and layers of complex composition masked by simple shapes meant to stimulate imagination, bring out one’s inner creativity and subconscious.
According to Shota, “Each shape is quite simple, but there are layers of complex composition and detail. That’s why people never quite understand the whole painting. Each time when people look at it they find different shapes and stories.”
For him, “art is a means of visualizing one’s philosophy.” Like the exhibition’s name, Shota hopes his art will “inspire people to open their mind and heart.”
To learn more about “Inspiration” visit www.shotakawahara.com, or check it out in person at Re-Invent, 202 Wisconsin Ave, Lake Forest, IL.By Paige Wagenknecht, GazeboNews assistant editor