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Georg Kolbe Museum

Shinichi Sawada

September 13, 2020 - April 11, 2021

Installation image of exhibition titled "Shinichi Sawada" at the Georg Kolbe Museum in Berlin in 2020

Shinichi Sawada, Georg Kolbe Museum, 2020

The filigree objects by the Japanese artist Shinichi Sawada (born 1982) are reminiscent of fantastic hybrids of humans and animals, of demonic masks, totems, medieval monsters or artistic pre-Columbian artifacts - and yet come from their very own world. Defying art-historical conventions as well as criteria of the contemporary market, Sawada's ceramic creatures testify to creative freedom and immense imagination. While they seem to be an expression of an inner dialogue that is extremely peculiar and yet universal in its emotional presence, the artist himself rarely speaks.

As an autodidact and autistic person, Shinichi Sawada works in an assisted social welfare facility in Shiga Prefecture, west of Kyoto. In his sheltered retreat, he has developed a unique design language over the past 20 years, which invites you to question traditional ways of thinking and categories.

Sawada's work was presented for the first time outside the context of so-called "Outsider Art" at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. As the first museum presentation of his work in Europe, the exhibition in cooperation with the Museum Lothar Fischer in the Georg Kolbe Museum shows 20 works by the Japanese artist.  

At the entrance to Shinichi Sawada's retrospective, visitors are greeted by a bronze sculpture by Georg Kolbe - a portrait of the art historian and psychologist Hans Prinzhorn. Prinzhorn, who was a close friend of Kolbe, worked from 1919 to 1921 at the Psychiatric University Clinic in Heidelberg, where he was responsible for the care and collection of patient pictures.  To this day, the Prinzhorn Collection has successfully dedicated its work to promoting the destigmatization of mental illness. Your current head, PD Dr. phil. Thomas Röske, visited the cross-border commuter Shinichi Sawada in Japan and was a guest at the museum on Sunday, September 27, 2020 to report on his impressions and his work as head of the Prinzhorn Collection.

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