Natsuyuki Nakanishi

Natsuyuki Nakanishi was born in 1935 in Toyko. He grew up there and attended Tokyo National University of Arts and Music, where he obtained a BFA in oil painting in 1958. Nakanishi’s career as an artist began in earnest in 1959 with a highly acclaimed series of paintings entitled Rhyme and he has continued his work as a painter to the present day.  In addition, Nakanishi was a founding member (with Jiro Takamatsu and Genpei Akasegawa) of the experimental group Hi Red Center, which was active from 1962-64. In 1965 he began collaborating with the Butoh dancers Tatsumi Hijikata and Kauo Ono, which would be very influential on his thinking and his practice.

In his artistic investigations, Nakanishi has consistently confronted existential questions relating to the role of the artist and his relationship to art-making. While deconstructing formal elements and recomposing them into abstract motifs in his paintings, Nakanishi also takes extensive notes and makes diagrams related to the works, in order to guide himself through his own process. When reading his writing it often seems as if Nakanishi is observing his work from a distance. Surreal ideas related to the work are also expressed—in his notes he describes his works almost as if they come into being of their own volition. For Nakanishi painting occupies a special realm, and as an artist he wanders through this realm, functioning as a sort of mediator between the work and the viewer.

Nakanishi has had solo exhibitions at numerous museums, including: Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art (1985), Seibu Museum (1989), Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art (1995/2002-03), Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (1997), Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art (2004/2012), The Shoto Museum of Art (2008). His works have also been shown in notable group exhibitions such as, Japanese Art After 1945: Scream against the Sky, Yokohama Museum of Art, Guggenheim Soho, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1994); and Tokyo, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013).

Nakanishi died in 2016.

Selected Artworks

June 19, 2017

Why Old Women Have Replaced Young Men as the Art World’s Darlings

Artsy Editorial by Anna Louie Sussman

Seeing the retrospective in Paris convinced McCaffrey, the longtime collector and gallerist, that he needed to bring her (Carol Rama) work to the U.S. market. He mounted a show of nearly 50 works from between 1938 and 1945 in September 2016. “Unless you have recognition in the U.S., you don’t really have a market,” he says. “We showed Ramas this time last year in Basel and Americans had no awareness.” This year, his booth at Art Basel in Basel placed Rama alongside the Gutai artist Kazuo Shiraga, as both artists’ work addressed life under totalitarianism by seeking to liberate the body and its functions. Read More
June 16, 2017

Gutai’s spectacular rise—and potential fall

The Art Newspaper by Matthew Wilcox

Crucial in Gutai’s sudden boom, in McCaffrey’s view, was the fact that the group had essentially been ignored in the US since the 1950s. “Look at the market for Italian post-war work, or back to the late 1980s, when the German Neo-Expressionists started to make an impact in the US. There are these discrepancies in information and knowledge that pop up.” Read More