Born in Vancouver in 1926 to Japanese parents, Kazuo Nakamura was interned with his family in a camp in British Columbia during the Second World War. He moved to Ontario in 1945, studying commercial art in Hamilton and later in Toronto. Nakamura was a co-founder, in 1953, of the Painters Eleven collective, a grouping of artists that became “crucial to the development of the Toronto artistic scene and eventually to all of Canadian art,” as Denise Leclerc describes in her foreword to Iris Nowell’s Painters Eleven. Nakamura was the “quiet one” of the group, and his production reflects this aspect of his personality.
In Untitled (1963), Nakamura structures his work according to a grid, much as he had in various painting series from 1955 on. This painting, however, evinces a more organic feeling, seemingly evoking the parched surface of a very dry land. The repetitive patterns and parallel lines found in his String Paintings and other works of that period, such as Curved Horizon No. 3 (1963), are more or less absent. The composition, here, is also notably coherent with the works in his sculptural Block Structure series.
Untitled features a putty-coloured patina typical of some of Nakamura’s most acclaimed works. The artist achieved this surface by mixing together various media, including turpentine, linseed oil, and brownish pigments, washing the mixture over the wet gesso, and then removing the excess as a printmaker would do whilst inking a copper plate.
Private collection, Toronto
NOWELL, Iris. P11, Painters Eleven: The Wild Ones of Canadian Art. Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 2011. 346 pp.