First published: Summer 2022

For synesthete King Nobuyoshi Godwin, colours, numbers and emotions are the key to his uplifting art, as his brother explains

My brother King’s journey as an artist did not begin with a brush or canvas. Now in his late twenties, he is a man of few spoken words, but expresses a deep sense of mindfulness through his artistic style. Sometimes he stares at trees and smiles as if he knows something that we don't. Sounds, such as the squealing of car brakes, and sights like the swaying of trees in the wind, can move him deeply. Paying rapt attention to things that the rest of us tend to tolerate, ignore or not notice occupies a great deal of his daily life.


The artist at home in his studio in 2020, photo: Yuko Taylor


He was born King Nobuyoshi Godwin, in 1991, in Raleigh, North Carolina, to our native Japanese mother and African-American father. At two-and-a-half years old, he was diagnosed with severe autism and throughout his school years attended special education programmes.


The Lyon is Having a Great Day Because the Sun is Shining “22”,
2020, 11 x 14 in. / 28 x 35.5 cm


As a child, King loved to vacuum. He would vacuum for hours, listening to the hum of the motor as it turned the brush. When he pulled the vacuum back, the pitch would drop as the motor fought against his pull. He was entranced with this ebb and flow of sound, intoxicated by it almost. For most people, vacuuming is a chore. Our awareness falls to the back of our minds and we switch to autopilot. But for King, vacuuming was a delight. The sensations of his everyday life occupy the foreground instead of the background, and it is this sensibility that is the foundation of the vision that defines his artwork.




This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #111

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