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Hikaru Fujii named winner of Nissan Art Award 2017 Grand Prix

Winning artwork, ‘Playing Japanese,’ is recognized for transcending cultures and nationalities

YOKOHAMA, Japan – Hikaru Fujii was named the winner of the Nissan Art Award 2017 Grand Prix for “Playing Japanese,” a work of art that examines Japanese history and contemporary world affairs.

An international jury, representing Nissan’s culture of diversity, chose the grand prix winner through multiple selection processes. Fujii’s work was selected from that of five finalists who were chosen in an initial round in New York in May.


“Playing Japanese” by Hikaru Fujii, winner of the Nissan Art Award 2017 Grand Prix (Photo: Yukiko Koshima)


“What was impressive about the award this year was how all of the finalists sincerely confronted their works of art,” said Fumio Nanjo, the chair of the Nissan Art Award 2017 jury. “Among them, Fujii’s artwork broaches an extremely complex period of Japanese history from around when the nation started to interact with other cultures, and then, through the means of a workshop, presents us with a strong message and questions. Responding also to the state of affairs in the world today, his superb work transcends cultures and nationalities to resonate with all kinds of people.”

The Nissan Art Award showcases different unique expressions, with subjects ranging from the familiar to historical interpretation. Part of Nissan’s vision of "enriching people's lives," its goal is to boost the finalists’ careers and contribute to Japanese culture by helping shape a society that’s more acquainted with art and enriched by it.

“Nissan established the Nissan Art Award in 2013 to celebrate and elevate Japan’s thriving arts culture,” said Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s chairman. “Our goal is to provide promising artists an opportunity to reach new audiences and obtain the resources to grow their talents. I would like to congratulate each of our finalists on their achievements, and I wish them future success.”

Explaining his winning entry, Fujii said, “This is an artwork that couldn’t have been realized without the cooperation of the performers and dozens of others who were involved. Through an artwork and a workshop recreating actual events from around 100 years ago, I want viewers to examine carefully the ways we are the same as people in the past, and the ways that we are different.”

In addition to prize money and a trophy, Fujii will be given the opportunity to participate in a three-month residency at the International Studio & Curatorial Program, a leading global art institution in New York. The program is renowned for the support it offers artists, helping them further their careers and activities at the international level.


Grand Prix winner Hikaru Fujii, center, and Audience Award winner Nami Yokoyama, second from left (Photo: Yukiko Koshima)


Each of the finalists selected in May received prize money and funding to create new works of art, which have been on display at BankART Studio NYK in Yokohama since Sept. 16. The special exhibition has attracted a variety of visitors, including people attending the concurrent Yokohama Triennale 2017.

Exhibition visitors were invited to cast votes to select a winner of the Audience Award. Over the first 11 days of the exhibition, 687 votes were cast. The winner of the Audience Award was Nami Yokoyama.

The exhibition will continue until Nov. 5. Fujii will give a talk at BankART Studio NYK from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 30.

Nissan Art Award 2017 Finalists

Grand Prix winner Hikaru Fujii
Audience Award winner Nami Yokoyama
  Motoyuki Daifu
  Ryuichi Ishikawa
  Yuichiro Tamura


Grand Prix winner Hikaru Fujii

Hikaru Fujii was born in 1976 in Tokyo, where he continues to live. He graduated with a DEA in aesthetics, sciences and technology of the arts from the University of Paris 8. He started his career in the new media art field in Paris before returning to Japan in 2005. Fujii is known for work that draws on archival materials, with a focus on video and film media to present reinterpretations of social events, history, memory and relationships as well as new hope for the future. His output encompasses not only installations and video but also workshops, documentaries, and writing and directing for theater and film. His exhibitions include “MOT Annual 2016: Loose Lips Save Ships” (Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, 2016), “Aomori City Archives Exhibition: The construction of history is dedicated to the memories of the unnamed” (guest director; Aomori Contemporary Art Centre, Aomori, 2015), “After the Symposium” (director, text; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum, 2015), “Records and Recollections: Walking Through House of Images” (Sendai Mediatheque, 2014), “Japan Syndrome – Art and Politics after Fukushima” (HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin, 2014), and Film Festival for Creating Our Own Media (supervisor; Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media, 2011).


Nissan Art Award 2017 Trophy

Trophy design rendering

Following on from the 2015 edition, Keita Suzuki has once again designed the Nissan Art Award trophy. The trophy encloses blue flower petals that symbolize rarity, expressing the unique talents that the artist has. While the 2015 trophy was themed around the eternity of creation that continues unbroken from generation to generation, made in partnership with a traditional artisan using lacquer and gold leaf, the 2017 trophy employs the contemporary material of acrylic, processed in collaboration with Air Frame, a studio in Shizuoka whose work has attained the level of crafts. After a process of discussion between Suzuki and Nissan, a trophy was realized that fused traditional craftsmanship with innovative design.

Keita Suzuki (product designer): Born in Aichi Prefecture in 1982, Keita Suzuki graduated from Tama Art University in 2006. Following time at NEC Design and Iwasaki Design Studio, he founded PRODUCT DESIGN CENTER/THE in 2012. With a focus on product design, his international projects encompass everything from planning to engineering and include home appliances, mobility products, furniture, everyday utensils, and art.


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