Hitoshi Nakazato: 1968-1971 Tokyo

2022.9.24 [sat] - 10.22 [sat] 11:00-18:00 *Sat. -5:00pm, Closed on Sundays and Mondays

ARTCOURT Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of works by Hitoshi Nakazato (1936-2010).

Born in Machida, Tokyo, Nakazato graduated from Tama Art University in 1960 with a BFA in oil painting, and moved to the US in 1962. While attending graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, he was inspired by the methodologies of printmaking and systems engineering to pursue a career in abstract painting. After returning temporarily to Japan from 1968 to 1971, he went back to the US and was subsequently based in New York City. He was active in experimental printmaking at the graduate school of the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught, and explored new possibilities in two-dimensional expression by incorporating printmaking theories into painting as a primary means of realizing his ideas.

Throughout his life Nakazato pursued abstraction characterized by intelligence of line and brilliance of color, and he is known as an artist with affinities for the Color Field painting movement that flourished in the US in the 1950s and 1960s, but early in his career, during the three years he was back in Japan, he consistently produced monochromatic works composed entirely of straight lines. This body of work was created amid worldwide resistance against established values during those years, in the context of which the artist critically examined his own stance toward his art and deconstructed the existing framework surrounding painting, while also adopting the systematic approach to production he had learned in the US to create his own original style. This was also a point of departure for the development of his subsequent works composed of lines and planes of color.

“Why paint?” “What does painting that rejects existing concepts of painting look like?” Nakazato continued to confront these fundamental questions throughout his life, both as an artist and as a member of society. This was a process in which an artist working in the two media of painting and printmaking, and with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds (Japan and the US, Japanese and English) sought to construct his own artistic vocabulary by comparing the characteristics and weighing the disparities of these, and to orient his own life through creative action based on this vocabulary. This endeavor was united at a fundamental level by intelligence, curiosity, and a stance of constantly relativizing his place in the world and trying to imagine other possibilities for what he saw before his eyes.

The first solo show of his work in 12 years, this exhibition will present for the first time a comprehensive selection of early works, created while he was back in Japan, in which he first engaged with these issues. The exhibition also explores the essence of Nakazato’s work and its significance in art history by surveying his works from the 1970s and 1980s, when he explored the possibilities of color field abstraction beyond the bounds of formalist theory.

Related events

  • 9. 24 [sat] 14:00-15:30
    Talk event:
    Akira Tatehata (Director of The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, President of Tama Art University)

    *RSVP required (Email
    *Free admission(First 20 applicants)
  • Related Information
    The exhibition of Hitoshi Nakazato is also held in Tokyo;
    Duration: September 17 [Sat] - October 16 [Sun], 2022
    Venue: MEM


Hitoshi Nakazato