Like a horizontally stretched skin of the membrane, this [Earth's surface] is so easy to break, tremble and tear. That is where we are located. —Natsuni Nakanishi
Touching Down on Land and Touching Down on Water XIV: Itsuura Coast made in 2013, is modelled after Rokkakudo, a small hexagonal temple erected on the edge of Itsuura Coast in Ibaraki prefecture. This minimalist temple designed by Okakura Tenshin had the dimension of 4 tatami matts, and Nakanishi's sculptural work has a foundation of the exact same size with 6 brass rectangular plates hung from above. As the painting stands vertically, it emphasizes the weak and unstable axis of the horizontal plane. In search of the perfect horizon, Nakanishi finds a clue in tea ceremony rituals continued since the Muromachi period. Known for its simplicity of fusing Buddhism and the Way of Tea, this temple was a place of meditation where one could gaze at the flat water plane in a tea cup, while overlooking the horizon of the Pacific Ocean. The work makes a tribute to the Rokkakudo temple, which was destroyed by the Great East Japan Earthquake, through insinuating subtle references: thin brass plates hung vertically and reflections of small metal balls glitter on sand.
Touching Down on Land and Touching Down on Water XIV: Itsuura Coast is conceived from the artist's profound thoughts about painting. The exhibition aims to reflect the legacy of the artist, who passed away in October last year, and offers an opportunity to reconsider painting, and how it is composed.
Born in Tokyo in 1935, Nakanishi graduated from the National University of Arts, Tokyo in 1958. In 1963, he joined with Jiro Takamatsu and Genpei Akasegawa to form the group High Red Center that together engaged in controversial 'happenings' that transcended the frameworks of conventional artistic creation and was thus perceived as anti- art activities at the time. From the 1960s onwards, Nakanishi continued his creation including works for stage design and installation. A series of his abstract painting with signature colors of purple, yellow-green and white continued to question the origin of painting. He had many major his solo exhibitions, Touching Down on Land and Touching Down on Water, The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura, Japan, 1995, Natsuyuki Nakanishi Toward Whiteness, Intensity, Presence, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo in 1997, Natsuyuki Nakanishi: Rhyme, Clothespins Assert Churning Action, Passing Each Other: Receding Purple, Emerging White Spots, Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art, Chiba in 2012 etc. His works has been collected by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The National Museum of Art, Tokyo, The National Museum of Art, Osaka and many museums both in Japan and abroad. Emeritus professor of Tokyo University of Arts.
Press release courtesy SCAI The Bathhouse.