Press Release

Oslo Kunstforening has the pleasure of presenting a cycle of inter-connected works and events in collaboration with Statsbygg and the National Museum, Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival, Dansens Hus and Ekebergparken.

The center of this cycle is Letters Sent from Heaven, a unique exhibition of Japanese experimental physicist Ukichiro Nakaya's (1900-1962) photographs of snow crystals and electrostatic discharges which opened at Oslo Kunstforening August 26.




International exhibitions

International Archives 2nd half of 2017

Ukichiro Nakaya, Letters Sent from Heaven

Oslo Kunstforening, Oslo (Norway)

26.08 - 24.09.2017




The photographs were taken by Ukichiro Nakaya and his colleagues in the 1920s and 1930s. Nakaya's research began with investigations of the sparks that occurred during electrostatic discharge. When he later discovered the complexity of the snow crystals he became so impressed by their beauty that he changed the direction of his research. As a result of this, in 1936 he developed the world's first synthetic snow crystal.

The photographs are scientific documents, characterized by strong aesthetic values and artistic expression. They highlight the importance of observation and of images, both in research and in our ability to perceive and interpret what we see. This is a reminder that scientific research can extend beyond the pure empirical interpretation of data, to poetic and holistic observations of natural phenomena.

There is much to learn from Nakaya's working methods and his aspirations to observe and interpret nature, in addition to his desire and capacity to communicate his findings, which he did through his photographs, essays and scientific films. Two films describing his research are included in the exhibition. One of them, Frost Flower, was produced for the first ICSI conference (International Commission on Snow and Ice) in Oslo in August 1948. This is the second time this film will be shown in Oslo, after 69 years.


Exhibition 26 August - 24 September 2017. Oslo Kunstforening, Rådhusgaten 19 - 0158 Oslo (Norway). Tel.  : +47 22 42 32 65. Opening hours  : Tuesday–Friday 12h-17h - Saturday–Sunday 12h—16h. Monday closed





Ukichiro Nakaya, Letters Sent from Heaven, Oslo Kunstforening, Oslo

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2017. All Rights Reserved

© Kaga City, Nakaya Ukichiro Foundation (detail).

Ukichiro Nakaya, Letters Sent from Heaven. Photo: Christina Leithe Hansen

Through the strange coincidence of showing Frost Flower in Oslo yet again, we can measure the way in which our attitudes towards nature have changed, or not.

All the exhibited photographs included in «Letters Sent from Heaven» are new prints, super high-resolution giclée copies of natural and artificial snow crystals, photographed between the 1920s and 1940s.

A version of this exhibition has recently been shown at KTH R1 Energiscenen, as part of the program of Dome of Visions, Stockholm, Sweden and at Riga Art Space, Latvia.

On September 9-10, four world-renowned Japanese icons, will be brought together in a trans-disciplinary series of events embracing the ephemerality of the water cycle, life, body, sound and light, involving fog sculptures, snow crystals, electrostatic discharges, a pioneering synthesizer composer and a dance legend.

Fujiko Nakaya, Ukichiro Nakaya's daughter, has been invited to create two of her renowned, site specific fog sculptures in Oslo. One of them for the roof terrace of the new National Museum on the occasion of the site’s Open Day, September 9. The seminar «Letters Sent from Heaven» will be hosted at Mellomstasjonen on the very same day. In the evening, Nakaya’s sculpture will become part of the live-performance «a•form», together with the composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and innovative dancer, Min Tanaka. Artist Shiro Takatani is the lighting designer for the event.

The following day everyone is invited to the unveiling of a second fog sculpture in Ekebergparken. This sculpture will be on view throughout September. To know more…

More information about the event here

Ukichiro Nakaya was a scientist who produced observations that can be treated as both scientific contributions as well as artistic. His daughter, having grown up with an intimate understanding of his work, became an artist who utilizes science in her work and synthesizes natural phenomena.

The photographs included in «Letters Sent from Heaven» were first shown in 2014 at the Sapporo International Art Festival in Japan curated by Ryuichi Sakamoto. In Oslo, Sakamoto will perform music composed for Fujiko Nakaya’s work inside her fog sculpture. The cycle thus begins and ends in Oslo, over a span of 69 years.

This collaboration was initiated by Oslo Kunstforening and developed together with Ultima, Statsbygg, the National Museum, Dansens Hus and Ekebergparken. The curator behind the project is Marianne Hultman, artistic director at Oslo Kunstforening.

The collaboration is made under the auspices of Oslo Art Walk, a city development project with the aim of highlighting the contemporary art institutions located between Ekeberg and Tjuvholmen.

The photographic prints were produced by Creative City Sapporo International Art Festival Executive Committee. The traveling exhibition is produced in collaboration with Kaga City and Nakaya Ukichiro Foundation with support from The Japan Foundation.

Oslo Kunstforening has received generous support from the Arts Council Norway, the City of Oslo and URO.

© Kaga City, Nakaya Ukichiro Foundation (detail). Ukichiro Nakaya, Letters Sent from Heaven. Photo: Christina Leithe Hansen