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Kenji Nakayama "Études" @ Fourth Wall Project, Boston

Juxtapoz // Friday, 11 Apr 2014
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On Monday, April 14th, Jux favorite, Kenji Nakayama will be opening his first major solo exhibition in Boston at Fourth Wall Project. “Études” marks a major departure in Nakayama’s oeuvre and debuts new bodies of work that are abstract and entirely focused on line, color, and texture. Kenji has participated in our Wall to Wall project with Converse and was most recently was featured in the April, 2012 issue of Juxtapoz! 

The exhibition centers around forty­nine abstract compositions on paper that showcase the art of pinstriping­­a technique of decorative painting that Nakayama has dedicated the last decade to mastering. Learning pinstriping was the impetus for Nakayama’s move to the US from Japan, and while his past pinstriping pieces have adorned text on signs, antique saws, motorcycles, and other practical surfaces, “Études” strips context and subject away in favor of a formalist exploration.

The exhibition’s title refers to the classical music composition format that is characteristically brief, albeit technically challenging, and provides a vehicle for virtuosity. This body of work was created over the last seven months, and for each piece, Nakayama worked within specific parameters: black paper, acrylic work, and a white enamel finish that serves as a compositional “anchor” of sorts­­a black and white horizontal compass for line and color to live within.

The series begins with several rosettes created in summer and fall of 2013, which conjures stained glass, mandalas, and hubcaps. Nakayama’s work transitions organically from circular works to more calligraphic compositions that meander from central points, or­­as with his later works, are repetitive and script­like. Études 31­38 take inspiration from Edo­era signage, which is defined by thick and heavy brushstrokes.

The number of works created in this series­­forty­nine­­refers to the period of mourning that is observed within Zen Buddhist traditions. Within this ritual, it is believed that the spirit of the deceased will transition into the next realm after a forty­nine day period; the forty­ninth day is celebrated by family and friends with a ceremony.

The exhibition features other works which are created on repurposed objects and heavy panels. A discarded crucifix is given a gold, red, and black pinstriping treatment that evokes Byzantine and Eastern Orthodox motifs, while other surfaces play host to totemic compositions that reference Pacific Northwest and Ainu art. As with the Études series, these idiosyncratic works are defined by symmetry and balance of line and color.

This exhibition is made possible through the support of Converse, Inc. The evening of Friday, April 18 is sponsored by Bushmills. The exhibition is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 1PM to 6PM, Wednesday through Friday, and from 1PM to 5PM on Sunday.

“Études” is organized by Kristen Wawruck, a New York City­based curator.

Kenji Nakayama 
“Études”
Fourth Wall Project
April 14th - May 18th, 2014

132 Brookline Ave
Boston, MA02215 

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