Osamu James Nakagawa

(b.1962; resides Bloomington, IN)

I was born in the United States, but much of my life has been divided between Japan and America. As a result, I feel like a stranger to both Japanese and English languages and cultures. Photography has become my expressive bridge.  - Osamu James Nakagawa

In the Drive-in Theater and Billboard series, Osamu James Nakagawa subverts two icons of the American landscape by inserting the culturally-charged images of his choosing into their display. Whether it is two Godzilla creatures projected above a scene of wreckage, a cluster of automobiles on the screen in front of a similarly grouped arrangement of parked cars, or a window-washer’s image seen through a car window, the foregrounds play off the backgrounds in arrangements that juxtapose and relate the two spaces in unexpected ways. The pictures of each series are Pigmented inkjet prints on German Etching Paper, and they have the coloration of a hand-tinted photograph, a choice which positions the scenes as both a little unreal and strangely nostalgic. The pictures from Ma between the past exploit a different kind of layering, surrounding a central image with a repetition of a different, smaller, more faded one.

Osamu James Nakagawa was born in New York City on June 3, 1962. Seven months later his Japanese-born parents took him to Japan, where the family would live for 15 years before settling in Houston (his parents returned to Japan once Nakagawa finished high school). He holds a BA in studio art from the University of St. Thomas Houston (1986) and an MFA in photography from the University of Houston (1993). His work has been shown in exhibitions including Ma-between the past at McMurtrey Gallery, Houston; Kai: Osamu James Nakagawa at SEPIA International, New York; Cuenca, Ecudor Bienal ‘98: Borderline Figuration; and Medialogue-Photography in Contemporary Art ‘98, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. He has been a Light Work Artist-in-Residency and the recipient of an Indiana Arts Commission grant. Nakagawa is an assistant professor at Indiana University, Bloomington.