The Artsy Collector Spotlight: Jury Kawamura
Jury Kawamura, designer and founder of jewelry label EYEFUNNY. Courtesy of Jury Kawamura.
Japanese collector Jury Kawamura doesn’t just appreciate art—he himself is a creative force. Despite majoring in economics, the Tokyo-born Kawamura was drawn in more aesthetic directions. A longtime passion for fashion and experience as a co-owner of a thrift store, where he specialized in vintage wear from European brands like Dior and Saint Laurent, led him to teach himself design. In 2003 he launched the jewelry label EYEFUNNY, whose diamond-encrusted, smiley-face pieces have found a following among the hypebeast set and have been sported by rapper Travis Scott, Latin artist J Balvin, Japanese influencer Kogi “Poggy” Motofumi, and English fashion designer Kim Jones.
Kawamura brings the same eclecticism to his collecting as he does to his jewelry. Just as diamonds shine out from emoji-like pendants in his work, Daniel Arsham’s hyper-contemporary sculptures are displayed alongside George Nakashima’s ultra-traditionalist furniture in his home. His collecting practice is focused on fun and discovery, tenets also evident in his own designs, and he owns pieces by Hiroki Tsukuda, Tomokazu Matsuyama, Marie Laurencin, and others. In a nod to his fashion-focused roots, Kawamura also collects vintage denim.
Artsy recently spoke with Kawamura to find out how he got his start collecting, his art-world friendships, and how he approaches art now.
Conoido Bench (1970) by George Nakashima and stools by Jury Kawamura. Courtesy of Jury Kawamura.
Can you describe your collection in a sentence or less?
One way of expressing myself.
Why did you start collecting art?
It is very simple: I love art and I became able to do that.
But I’ve also always been very fascinated by strong concepts behind works and artists. My own artistic activities are influenced by two Japanese artists, Isamu Noguchi and George Nakashima, whose work I collect.
What is a piece you own that people are often drawn to or ask you about frequently?
It isn’t just one piece but probably Daniel Arsham’s work. People around me know that I collect his older art, including his paintings.
I first saw his work at Colette in Paris in 2013 or 2014. That series, “Future Relics”—plaster sculptures of decaying modern artifacts like cameras and phones—made a great impact on me. I just felt that it was beautiful, that it embodied the beauty of aging over time, like vintage denim. I am a collector of Levi’s, Lee, and Wrangler vintages as well. After that I Googled Daniel and discovered more of his paintings and sculptures.
Inside Kawamura’s space, with a view of a George Nakashima settee and Daniel Arsham’s Iced Phoenix (2004). Courtesy of Jury Kawamura.
Can you tell us about an artist you’ve discovered through Artsy?
I’ve found a lot of beautiful work by some of my favorite artists, especially older works by them.
I’ve learned more about Hiroki Tsukuda, whom I met at a dinner celebrating Keiichi Tanaami’s exhibition at Nanzuka gallery in Tokyo. Also Yukimasa Ida, whose work I saw on Instagram before going to his exhibition at Parco Art in the same city. And there’s Tomokazu Matsuyama, whose studio I was able to visit in New York.
Can you tell us about a piece you recently bought on Artsy?
In a recent DIGARD AUCTION I acquired a portrait of a woman by Marie Laurencin. I saw her paintings for the first time at the Musée de l’Orangerie over 20 years ago and I fell in love with her work. I’ve hung this piece on the wall with Sarah Moon’s photography.
At right, Marie Laurencin’s Portrait of a woman with a pink ribbon. Courtesy of Jury Kawamura.
What is your collecting process like?
I collect through Artsy or galleries, and sometimes buy work directly from artists.
The online space has had a big impact on my collecting thanks to online auctions. And it’s also easy to see images and connect with galleries—before the internet it was hard to get information about art and artists.
What is the biggest challenge you encounter as an art collector? How have you overcome it?
I haven’t encountered many challenges because collecting is just fun for me, but at the beginning I had no idea how to start. Everyone starts from zero. It’s by meeting good people and learning through experiences that we keep and grow our passion.
How do you build relationships with galleries?
I’ve worked in the fashion industry as a jewelry designer for 20 years, so when I meet gallerists normally we have friends in common.
Inside Kawamura’s space, with several artworks including Daniel Arsham x Sorayama Hajime’s Holding hands (2019) at right. Courtesy of Jury Kawamura.
What trends are you seeing in the art market?
I feel that the art market is the same as fashion: There are so many trends it is hard to focus on one or two.
When you’re deciding whether or not to buy an artist’s work, what’s the most important information that helps you make that decision?
Normally I just follow my heart. But if I can find out, I like to know who is supporting an artist. That said, nowadays I’m most interested in classical painting.
What do you enjoy most about being a collector?
Meeting good people is one of the great joys of being a collector. And designing spaces with the beautiful art I’ve acquired is super fun for me.