Kiyoshi Nakagami: Gal-Erie Richard

By Kuspit, Donald | Artforum International, December 2012 | Go to article overview

Kiyoshi Nakagami: Gal-Erie Richard


Kuspit, Donald, Artforum International


The striking thing about Kiyoshi Nakagami's paintings is not so much their sublimity, but the unexpected influence of Barnett Newman's "zip" on their construction--"unexpected" because Nakagami's ethereal waterfalls of gold paint on black grounds are, formally, miles away from Newman's rigorously geometric Color Field abstractions. Yet it is not the drip's form--the cleanly demarcated vertical line--in which Nakagami is interested. Rather, he is inspired by the way in which the zips recall "drips," the way in which they seemingly cascade down the flat planes of Newman's painting, drawn by gravity to the earth. (He also acknowledges a debt to Frederic Edwin Church's Niagara, 1857.)

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 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 Newman's work, recalling the means by which he attempted to unencum-ber the experience of pure color. Likewise, for Nakagami, the removal of the maker's hand is meant to facilitate meditative contemplation.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In all of the works in this show--which featured two grand diptychs, five large paintings, and five smaller paintings (all 2012), and coincided with an exhibition of related work at this gallery's Paris branch--the paint appears suspended in space. …

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