Minoru Nomata Biography

In his precisely constructed paintings and drawings, Japanese contemporary artist Minoru Nomata presents imaginary structures that draw from both ancient and futuristic designs.

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Education and Early Work

After graduating with a degree in design from Tokyo University of the Arts in 1979, Minoru Nomata worked in advertising before turning to painting in 1984. The artist's first exhibition took place in 1986 at Sagacho Exhibit Space, an alternative venue in Tokyo that exhibited works by Yasumasa Morimura, Shinro Ohtake, and Hiroshi Sugimoto, among others.

Minoru's early paintings from the 1980s show his interest in ancient Greek and Roman architecture, evident in his use of tall columns in Still-14 (1986) or a series of arches stacked on top of one another in Arcadia-24 (1988). In both paintings, however, the artists' fascination with atmospheric, fantastical buildings is visible in his unlikely combination of architectural forms. The structure with a dome in Still-14, for example, is both stage-like in revealing a cross-section of its interiors, and eerily realistic in the precise rendition of light and three-dimensional forms.

Depicting the Imaginary

Minoru Nomata often combines elements from his personal archive of magazines and newspapers, constructing imaginary but somehow familiar buildings. Some are even nostalgic, aided by his use of soft, warm light on the white sail atop a house in Forthcoming Places-6 (1996) or the half-ruined circular scaffolding in Kuu (2003).

The artist has cited both musicians and artists as having been influential on his work, among them musician Brian Eno and composer Erik Satie, as well as surrealist painters René Magritte and Giorgio de Chirico. Works such as 'Ascending Descending' (2018) create an atmosphere of mystery and suspense, in which Nomata portrays exaggerated spheres floating into the sky.

The Ancient and Urban

Charles Sheeler, an American pioneer of early 20th-century Precisionist painting, also left an impression on Nomata—the two artists' works share common interests in urban motifs and tall, column-like towers. In Babel (2005), Nomata depicts the Biblical tower as a white structure of irregularly ascending floors with minute windows that recall modern-day corporate buildings. An allusion to the urban is even stronger in Skyglow-V17 (2008), in which specks of light emitted from the windows of a towering building illuminate the darkness.


Minoru Nomata has exhibited widely in Japan, with solo and two-person exhibitions including ASCENDING DESCENDING, Sagacho Archives, 3331 Arts Chiyoda, Tokyo (2018); Anchor, Gallery Hiroshima (2017); KAWAGUCHI Kimio | NOMATA Minoru — Alternative Universes Within, Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery (2016); and Ghost, ATSUKOBAROUH, Tokyo (2014).

In 2021, White Cube began representing his work, and presented the exhibitions Introductions (online) (2020); Kazunori Hamana | Minoru Nomata, White Cube Paris (2021); and UNBUILT, White Cube Hong Kong (2021).

Selected group exhibitions include MUJI CONNECTS ART, ATELIER MUJI GINZA Gallery2, Tokyo (2021); catch the eyes, The Museum of Modern Art, Gunma (2020); METROPOLIS, Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem (2020); BEYOND THE END: RUINS IN ART HISTORY, The Shoto Museum of Art, Tokyo (2018); Gallery at the Park, Park Hyatt Tokyo + Gallery 1 (2014); and Imaginary Architecture from Piranesi to Minoru Nomata, Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts, Tokyo (2013).

Minoru Nomata's website can be found here.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021

Minoru Nomata Featured Artworks

Skyglow-V7 by Minoru Nomata contemporary artwork painting
Minoru Nomata Skyglow-V7, 2008 Acrylic on canvas
53.3 x 33.7 cm
White Cube Contact Gallery

Minoru Nomata Recent Exhibitions

Minoru Nomata Represented By

White Cube contemporary art gallery in Mason's Yard, London, United Kingdom White Cube Aspen, Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, West Palm Beach

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