Misaki Kawai

Misaki Kawai uses materials gathered from travels in Asia and abroad and incorporates them into her world of whimsy by turning drawings into paintings, sculptures into wall works, sketches into furniture, and transmitting simple materials into new characters.  Playful, basic and repeated imagery inspires us to read shapes and forms in a new way and to see unexpected things in the everyday.

Kawai’s practice runs the gamut of media, taking shape on canvas, in freestanding sculpture, on wall-mounted papier-mâché constructions and on the smiling pet rocks she sells on her website. Regardless of medium, Misaki’s work gently but incisively prods at the bizarre minutiae of contemporary culture, lampooning it with a disarming sweetness. Born in Osaka, Japan and currently living between Osaka and New York, Misaki’s work has been in two exhibitions this year at The Hole, Booby Trap, and her own solo show, Cave Life, as well as in group shows at Dio Hora in Greece and Flower Pepper Gallery in California.

Misaki Kawai

b. 1978 Osaka, Japan

Lives and works between New York & Osaka


Select Solo Exhibitions


Cave Life, The Hole, New York, NY

Misaki Kawai

Hair Show, The Hole, New York, NY

Hair Show, October, 2013


Mt. Pom Pom, Children’s Museum of the Arts, New York, NY



Big Bubble, Malmö Konsthall, Malmö

Wet Shiny Surprise, Galleri Loyal, Malmö

Nice Bang, Furnetto, Lucerne

Pencil Exercise, Take Ninagawa, Tokyo



Project N 43, Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Tokyo



Homeland 2020, Take Ninagawa, Tokyo

Kung Fu Forest, LaMontagne Gallery, Boston, MA



Outdoor Club, Paul Bright, Toronto

Fancy Pants, V1 Gallery, Copenhagen

Kimagure Float, Take Ninagawa, Tokyo



Fuzzy Love, Galleri Loyal, Stockholm

Momentum 7, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA (curated by Emily Moore Brouillet)

Big Break, Perugi Artecontemporanea, Padova, Italy

Tiger Punch, Clementine Gallery, New York, NY



Mars Investigation Laboratory, Kantor / Feuer Window, New York, NY



Kuru Kuru Jet, Jack Hanley Gallery, San Francisco, CA

Community Park, Kenny Schachter Contemporary, New York, NY



Sun Park, Inman Gallery, Houston, TX

Octopus Pier, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, NY

Misaki Kawai, Kenny Schachter Contemporary, New York, NY



Air Show, Kenny Schachter ConTEMPorary, New York, NY

Garbage Room, New Image Art, Los Angeles, CA


Select Group Exhibitions


Greek Gotham, Dio Horia, Mykonos (curated by Maria Brito)

Keep It Together, Flower Pepper Gallery, Pasadena, CA (curated by Mark Todd)



Powerful Babies: Keith Haring’s Impact on Artists Today, Spritmuseum, Stockholm (curated by Bill Arning and Rick Herron)

Tiger Tiger, Salon 94, New York, NY

Outta Town Sh*t, Kravets/Wehby Gallery, New York, NY (curated by Nina Chanel Abney)

She Sells Seashells by the Seashore, Eric Firestone Gallery, East Hampton, NY

Post-Analog Painting, The Hole, New York, NY

Post-Analog Painting

Woman House, Eric Firestone Gallery, East Hampton, NY (curated by Eric Firestone and Michelle Tillou)



Playmaking, The Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art, Kagawa

This Is Not A Toy, The Design Exchange, Toronto (crated by Pharrell Williams)

More Material, Salon 94, New York, New York, NY (curated by Duro Olowu)

Early Man, The Hole, New York, NY

Early Man

Tee Pee Project, Eric Firestone Gallery, East Hampton, NY (curated by Eric Firestone and Michelle Tillou)



Where To Go, MUJI to go kitte, Tokyo

Area, The Hole, New York, NY (curated by Jeffrey Deitch)

AREA: The Exhibition

Japanese Artists in New York, Marunouchi House, Tokyo

Anxiety, The NY Times, New York, NY

Draw Gym, 247365, Brooklyn, NY

Chicken Or Beef? A Transcontinental Survey of Figurative Painting, The Hole, New York, NY



The Big Bang, The Watermill Center, Water Mill, NY

Fun, Riihimäki Art Museum, Finland?

Permanent Collection, Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York, NY

Friends & Family, Kenny Schachter / ROVE Projects LLP, London

Casa de Empeno, Anonymous Gallery, New York, NY



75 Artists in 75 Years, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston

Status – Somewhere Between Position and Condition, V1 Gallery, Copenhagen

In the Garden, Utopian Slumps, Melbourne

Face Maker, Royal / T Art Space, Los Angeles, CA (curated by Kathy Grayson)

International Exhibitions / Fumetto, Luzern



Mutant Pop, Loyal, Malmö

Insider/Outsider, Portugal Arte 10, Lisbon

Not Quite Open For Business, The Hole, New York, NY

Not Quite Open for Business

Album, V1 Gallery, Copenhagen

The Cheaper Show, No. 9, W2 Storyeum, Vancouver

FIAC, Take Ninagawa, Paris

Happily Unhappy, Blanc Compound, Mandaluyong, Phillipines



I Believe: Japanese Contemporary Art, The Museum of Modern Art, Toyama

Visions of the Frontier, Institute Valenciá d’Art Modern, Valencia

The Overlooked Space, Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Winnipeg, Manitoba (curated by Paul Butler)

Wild Feature, Galerie Zürcher, NYC, (curated by Brian Belott)

Wild Feature 2, Galerie Zürcher, Paris (curated by Brian Belott)

Flight of Fancy, Kenny Schachter / ROVE, London

I Can’t Feel My Face, Royal/T Art Space, LA (curated by KAWS)

15 Year Anniversary, New Image Art Gallery, LA

Playing Around, Brattleboro Museum, Brattleboro



Last Second First – Narrative Art for the New Century, ISB Gallery, Providence (curated by Jordin Isip)

Mail Order Monsters, Max Wigram Gallery, London

The Lords, David Lawrence, LA

Fun House, Park Life, San Francisco

Just It (Just Be), Galleri Opdahl, Stavanger, Norway

Panorama Project, Jonathan Levine Gallery, NYC

Return to Sender, Krets, Malmö, Sweden

I Won’t Grow Up, Cheim & Read, New York, NY

Everything Else, Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York, NY

Wet ’n’ Wild, Kim Light Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

Move 16, Cinders Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (curated by Rich Jacobs)

Object Salon, Honey Space, New York, NY; White Space Gallery, London (curated by Bob Nickas, Kathy Grayson, Pascal Spengemann, Brooke Geahan and Thomas Beale)

Kunst Gruppe, Werkstätte, New York, NY

Kawai Misaki & Tao Soju, Gallery J-Chen, Taipei



Those Bloody Yanks, Leonard Street Gallery, London

Hey You Guyyyys, Community Outreach Gallery, Toronto

Making a Home: Japanese Contemporary Artists in New York, Japan Society, New York, NY

Gallery Artist, Take Ninagawa, Tokyo

Sporty Club GR2, Giant Robot, Los Angeles, CA

Red Hot: Asian Art Today from the Chaney Family Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX

Animal Wrestling, Kinzelman ArtCounsulting, Houston, TX

Art Under Glass, Macy’s, Herald Square, New York, NY (curated by Gabrielle Bryers)

Homegrown, David Krut Projects, New York, NY (curated by Renee Riccardo)

Not only A, but B, Transformer Gallery, Washington DC (curated by Atsuko Ninagawa)

Paper Trails – New Adventures in Drawing, V1 Gallery, Copenhagen

I Love Tourism, organized by Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Galleria di Piazza San Marco, Venice

Look Behind You, Giant Robot, New York, NY

These Bagels Are Gnarly, Cinders Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (curated by Rich Jacobs)

Five Painters, Galleri Loyal, Stockholm



Guy Ben-Ner & Misaki Kawai, TAKEFLOOR 404&502, Tokyo

Unwrapping the Wing, Invisible Museum, Denver, CO (curated by Devon Dikeou)

Boro-Boro and Doro-Doro, Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo

Art Parade, organized by Deitch Project, New York, NY

A Thousand Things, MU Museum, Holland (curated by 2K by Gingham)

Collage Party, ZieherSmith Gallery, New York, NY

Waves, Mollusk Surf Shop, San Francisco, CA (curated by Marsea Goldberg)

It’s a Beautiful Day, Ise Cultural Foundation, New York, NY (curated by Paul Laster and Renee Riccardo)

Don’t Abandon the Ship, Allston Skirt Gallery, Boston, MA (curated by Eddie Martinez)

The Studio Visit, Exit Art, New York, NY

Mars Investigation Laboratory, Kantor / Feuer Window, New York, NY



Live Through This, Miami Design Direct, Miami, FL (organized by Deitch Projects)

Tiger Drip, Galleri Loyal, Stockholm

Loyal and His Band, Galleri Loyal, Stockholm

Dear New Girl or Whatever Your Name Is, Jack Hanley Gallery, San Francisco, CA

Hanging By a Thread, Moore Space, Miami, FL (curated by Nina Arias and Jose Diaz)

No Bones About It, New Image Art, Los Angeles, CA

MOVE #13, Clementine Gallery, New York, NY (curated by Rich Jacobs)

Greater New York 2005, P.S.1 MoMA, New York, NY

The New Image Art Show, RVCA, Los Angeles, CA



Five Artist Show, Kenny Schachter/ROVE, London

Trunk of Humours, Deitch Projects, New York, NY (curated by Kathy Grayson)

Majority Whip, White Box, New York, NY

The Hunt For Your Family, Odd Number, Stockholm (curated by Loyal at V1 Copenhagen)

Becoming Giants, Le Roy Neiman Gallery, Columbia University, New York, NY (curated by Camila Marambio)



Special Projects Fall 2003, P.S.1 MoMA, New York, NY

Sun Park, Inman Gallery, Houston, TX

Baby You Can’t Drive My Car, Cooper Classics, New York, NY (curated By Kenny Schachter)

Art Band, Capitale, New York, NY (curated By Kenny Schachter)

Lead Poisoning, New Image Art, Los Angeles, CA (curated by Rich Jacobs and Marsea Goldberg)

Funny Cry Happy, New Image Art, Los Angeles, CA

Crazy Bastard, New Image Art, Los Angeles, CA (curated by Marsea Goldberg)

Collective Conscous, Mavi, New York, NY (curated by Scenic)



Tensionism, Kenny Schachter/Rove, NYC (curated by Kenny Schachter)

Dime Bag, New Image Art, LA & The Front Room, Brooklyn (curated by Jordin Isip and Rodger Stevens)

Super Hero, New Image Art, Los Angeles, CA (curated by Marsea Goldberg)

Panorama, San Francisco & The Front Room, Brooklyn, NY (curated by Jordin Isip and Rodger Stevens)

Mica & Misaki, Transformer, Washington D.C. (curated by Victoria Reis and Jayme McLellan)



The Exquisite Day Project, Plus Ultra, Brooklyn, NY (curated by Jording Islip and Rodger Stevens)


Move East, One Pixel, Philadelphia, PA (curated by Rich Jacobs)


Select Press


Roberta Smith, “Make Room for Video, Performance and Paint,” The New York Times, January 3.

Raphael Michilis, “Good Sense Bad Technique,” Elephant, no. 1, Winter 2009-10.



“Manifesto,” Art Review, no. 31, 2009.

“Wild Feature,” The New York Times, July 24, 2009.



“The Fiction Issue,” Vice, December Issue, 2008.

“Tokyo’s Hottest Creators Misaki Kawai,” Harper’s BAZAAR, May, 2008



“Making a Home: Japanese Contemporary Artists in New York,” Japan Society, NYC

Kirsten Fricke, “Misaki Kawai,” Theme Magazine, Spring, 2007.

Cate McQuaid, “In Her Whimsical Installation, She Plays with Dolls,” The Boston Globe, March 27, 2007.

Yuri Shirasaka, “HETA-UMA & Underground Summit Japan/U.S.A. @ ON SUNDAYS & BOROBORO DORODORO SHOW@Watari Museum of Contemporary Art,” Bijutsu Techo, vol.59, no.890, January, 2007.

“A Decade Of Art In Tokion,” Revisionaries, 2007.

“Trouble At Play,” Modern Painters, November Issue , 2007.



“It’s a Beautiful Day”, The Asahi Shimbun, January 13, 2006.

Wendy Goodman, “Home is Where the Art Is,” Modern Painters, March, 2006.



Jerry Saltz, “Lesser New York,” The Village Voice, March 28th, 2005.

Roberta Smith, “Desired Constellations,” The New York Times, August 5th, 2005.

Kristin Poor, “PROJECT IN THE MAKING…: THE WOW-WEE WORLD OF MISAKI KAWAI,” ArtAsiaPacific, no.45, Summer 2005.



Andrew LaVallee, “Majority Whip: Get Personal with Politics,” NY Arts, July/August, 2004.

Clark Buckner, “Kuru Kuru Jet,” GUARDIAN: The San Francisco Bay, June 2, 2004.



Alex Mar, “Misaki Kawai,” The New York Sun, February 6, 2003

Roberta Smith, “A Bread-Crumb Trail to the Spirit of the Times,” The New York Times, 2003.

Jerry Saltz, “Rays of Light,” The Village Voice , 2003.

Roberta Smith, “ART IN REVIEW, MISAKI KAWAI,” The New York Times, January 31, 2003.

Roberta Smith, “ART REVIEW; A Bread-Crumb Trail to the Spirit of the Times,” The New York Times, January 17, 2003.



Roberta Smith, “ART GUIDE: TENTIONISM,” The New York Times, March 15, 2002.