“Increasingly Expressionistic Work Necessitates Fortified Form that Disciplines”

Kazumi Nakamura

March 8, 2016 – April 2, 2016
Gallery Hours :11:00 – 19:00
Gallery Closed:
Sunday, Monday, Public Holiday
Reception:March 8, 2016 18:00 – 20:00

I’m pleased to present a new solo exhibition by Kazumi Nakamura, featuring works from 2015 to 2016.

It is no exaggeration to say that Nakamura has recently hit his stride.
I’ll leave it to his own writing to deal with the difficult concepts employed in his work but I do want to point out that in the first place, creating abstract paintings with full confidence is quite a feat. Though it may seem like a matter of course, a painter cannot paint without motifs; it is extraordinary that Nakamura not only manages to motivate himself without one but also successfully imbues his work with endless innovative potential. It may be difficult for non-painters to grasp the magnitude of this, but Nakamura, in this way, has painted over 1000 works and counting so far. We’re talking amazing on the highest planes of amazement.

Recently I summed up an old anecdote between the two of us in a Facebook post. I’ve reprinted that post here (with some revisions):

“Kazumi Nakamura is my senpai (progenitor) from Tokyo University of the Arts (Geidai). As an oil painting major, he stood in the highest ranks of the Geidai social caste. I, by turn, was in Nihonga, the bottom caste.

Eight years ago, around the time when I first opened Kaikai Kiki Gallery, I approached him about doing an exhibition with us and, on multiple occasions, we shared a meal. I was certain things were going well and that we were on track to holding a show when, one day, I received an envelope in the mail with a six-page letter. The contents went something like:
‘In our conversations, I somehow managed to keep my cool, but now, as I look back on them, there are many things which I cannot abide. You speak with an air of politeness but at the most basic level, you have no etiquette. The nerve you have, to tell me to revisit my paintings of the past and how I can improve them! Do you think I will just roll over and do your bidding?!’

It went on in this vein, in small script, for page after page. After the initial shock, I felt I could understand where he was coming from… and gave up hope.

Fast forward to 2014.
Ten days before the opening of his solo retrospective at the National Art Center, Tokyo, I received a letter from him saying that he would like me to see the show. I thought I had better refrain from attending the opening so I ended up going in the middle of the exhibition period. The show itself was spectacular, enormous in scale, and it ended up being honored with the 2015 award from the Ministry of Education of Fine Arts. I sent Nakamura a letter with my thoughts on the show and he responded by asking if I would like to meet him. I have to say my feelings were mixed, like being reunited with an ex-girlfriend that I had deeply cared about but who had dumped me. We were meeting for the first time in years and my heart was thumping… And what does he say but: ‘Takashi, ever since you asked me to do a show, I’ve been waiting all this time to hear from you.”
…Wait, come again? What was that black-as-night letter you sent all about?

Well, actually, I understand how a person might have such a change of heart, even one so drastic.
Especially we artists can have extreme changes of heart for the slightest of reasons. Yes… it happens to me too, that sort of change. I knew that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, and so I scheduled a show as quickly as possible, which we held in September of 2014. After that, we assisted him with holding a solo exhibition at Blum & Poe in LA, etc., and our relationship continues to this day.”

After posting this on Facebook and sending the text to Nakamura, who’s not on Facebook, I received the following reply.


Good evening.
Takashi… You told the whole world about that unseemly episode? Well, I suppose it’s all right! (laugh)
I say that because I know full well that people love hearing about these sorts of transformations.
It’s true that the road that led to our working together had many twists and turns, but I believe that was just one form of necessary battle when we artists face one another professionally.
I’m sure that people will be quite pleased with a story like this. However, I also know that they understand the nature of our working together now! I have not received a single complaint about it!

Moving on, there is just one small misunderstanding that I’d like to correct. (Just to be clear, this is not meant as an accusation).
In January 2014, you actually e-mailed me a New Year’s greeting saying, “It’s been four years since we last saw eachother. How have you been? I still feel the same way about working together…”
If you like, I can search for it now and forward it to you as proof.
It was for that reason that I sent you an invitation to my show at the National Art Center. (Still, it is indeed true that I had been thinking about your offer deeply for several years without telling a soul. I kept contemplating whether or not to allow myself to be buried domestically, or whether I should listen to you and take a chance… The words of yours that resonated with me most deeply were: “Do you want to be discovered after you die, or achieve acceptance in your own lifetime?!”) I suppose I should have shown more consideration for how you would feel after reading my acerbic letter. I apologize.

Kazumi Nakamura

Wait a second! Here I was in my post writing that the girl who had dumped me (Nakamura) had suddenly decided she wanted me back (by inviting me to the show) and how I had agonized over the decision… when in fact it was me all along who had never given up and sent out an e-mail saying “I want to see you again!” That certainly rings true (even if I don’t remember)! After all, I have always been bad at letting go….

Well, that’s all there is to this old anecdote, but as I wrote in the beginning, Nakamura is really hitting his stride now, producing groups of works like a fine tuna reaching the ripest period of fat and taste.
I hope you will come and see the latest evolution in his abstract paintings for yourself.

Takashi Murakami

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