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Life after Chelsea: Ryohei Oba – MA Fine Art


Written by
Natalie Anastasiou
Published date
08 August 2018

In the lead up to the 2018 MA Summer Show opening on 7 September, we caught up with some postgraduate Chelsea Alumni. We interviewed past students about their life at Chelsea and how their learning experience has shaped their practice now.

From Japan, Ryohei Oba, 2017 MA Fine Art alumnus has since been working in the fashion industry in Tokyo and has had multiple international exhibitions.

A model surrounded by colorful furniture.

What have you been working on since graduating?

I have been preparing for some exhibitions and working on my new personal projects, and also working in the fashion industry here in Tokyo, Japan.

How has your practice developed since graduating?

I have more consideration for my practice now, especially the management part of my practice. I have seen a lot of great art work, including some design pieces, in London and met some great artists. These experiences have made me consider how to access exhibition opportunities as an artist and also look for some presentation opportunities.

What work/projects/exhibitions have you got coming up?

At the moment I’m presenting one of my pieces of work at Chicago Design Museum, USA and it will be added to their collection. I’ve just finished another exhibition at CICA Museum in South Korea last July. I have also designed the main visuals for a new launched Japanese fashion web magazine, it will come out at the end of August.

A woman wearing a pink dress crouching in the grass surrounded by pink sculptures.

How did your time at Chelsea push your practice? Did it challenge your ways in thinking in anyway?

It was very challenging in many ways. I cannot say it was easy coming to a foreign country to make my art work, but all of my experiences have pushed me to consider what my identity as a creator is.

Sometimes I can see the moment where visual communication reaches beyond verbal communication between different nationalities.

What projects did you collaborate on whilst at Chelsea and with whom? Did this lead to any further projects?

During my MA, I collaborated with some full-time and part-time students, Mo Jiaqing , James Clark, and Moi Tran. I was part of an improvisational performance practice with Jiaqing and James using sounds and dance and I have continued working with Jiaqing on further video projects after graduation. With Moi, we designed some costumes for some theatres in London. I have also met some Japanese students from BA textile, Chelsea, and recently I have been working with them in the fashion industry in Tokyo, Japan.

What was unique about studying at Chelsea College of Arts?

Having access to such a big wood work shop.

What was the most valuable thing you learned on the course?

How important it is to keep researching and rethinking ideas from a large history of art and design.

A woman's head surrounded by colourful sculptures.

In what ways did the summer shows enhance your practice? Did they lead to any new opportunities?

We had to curate the show by ourselves, so we had to discuss each space of show in depth and every way of presenting the work. It was difficult obstacle to overcome but it led to new opportunities to work with other artists and helped us communicate how to successfully create a show in one space.

What advice would you give to our graduating students?

We would all benefit to think about project management in relation to our own art practice. Otherwise, we will struggle to have successful creative careers.

Describe your time at Chelsea in 3 words

Challenging but fun!

Click here to find out more about MA Fine Art.

For information on the Postgraduate Summer Show opening on 7 – 13 September, click here.

To see more work from our graduating students, head to