Galerie Richard

Kiyoshi NAKAGAMI - Square Paintings

Press release

Galerie Richard presents Kiyoshi Nakagami’s second solo exhibition in New York from January 9 to February 8, 2014. The artist (Born 1949, Shizuoka, Japan) has been represented by the gallery in Europe since 2002. His work is part of the collections of The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo. He was included in a group exhibition titled “Nihonga Painting, Six Provocative Artists” in Yokohama Museum of Art in 2006. He had a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Kamakura in 2008. The Museum Haus Kasuya in Yokosuka, Japan, will present a solo show from January 8th through March 16, 2014.

As a painter, there is nothing more difficult to represent than light. The ones who can do that are the greatest painters, greatest artists.” – Kiyoshi Nakagami

 Nakagami creates a pure light that emanates from dark shadow and radiates through a series of delicately sumptuous grades. Below the focal point of piercing light, emits an undefined, vaporous matter. His ability to represent the diffusion of light through paint lends an introspective quality to his work.  This aspect is not exclusive to painting, however, James Turrell requests the assistance of Nakagami with his installations while in Japan.

In an Artforum review for his first exhibition in New York, Donald Kuspit stated “Accordingly, Nakagami  ‘paints’ by laying his acrylic on the canvas, moving it this way and that, and allowing gravity to move the pigment, which he has ‘enriched’ with gold mica. The resultant works —filled with meticulous ripples and evoking cascades of light— bear no trace of the paintbrush. This absence of painterly gesture is also suggestive of Neuman’s work, recalling the means by which he attempted to unencumber the experience of pure color. Likewise, for Nakagami, the removal of the maker’s hand is meant to facilitate meditative contemplation” (1).

The artist allows natural processes to develop in his paintings. The reactions of the media are born of a fine balance between his seemingly choreographed movement and the resulting unconstrained flow of paint. “Nakagami does not reproduce the light of the natural world. The light of his paintings exists only in painting. The artist’s awareness of time in the concentrated moment in which light is made manifest is closely associated with the surprise of encountering something ephemeral and sublime” (2). Nakagami does not imitate nature; he allows natural phenomena to be generated on the canvas creating spontaneous orders that we encounter in nature.

Donald Kuspit concludes : “This may explain why Nakagami’s paintings are endlessly fascinating, like all art that seems miraculous because it dwells on miracles, with religious zeal”(1). By  working only on square canvases for this exhibition with new medium sized canvases, the artist emphasizes the neutrality of the square. A vertical rectangular painting representing a  falling light can easily be interpreted in a religious way. Ahorizontal painting with light can easily be viewed as a landscape. The square canvas refers more to an experimental field. Kiyoshi as a painter considers first the light as a material that he attempts to represent and to manipulate for an artistic achievement.


 (1)  Kuspit, Donald. Kiyoshi Nakagami  – Galerie Richard, Artforum, December 2012, p.278-279

 (2)  Yamanashi , Toshio. On the New Work of Kiyoshi Nakagami : Light from Afar, in catalgue Kiyoshi Nakagami, The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama, p.15


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