Vancouver-born Kazuo Nakamura had a lifelong interest in the concept of universality, which is the quality of being true or appropriate in all situations. Although a member of Painters Eleven, Nakamura’s Japanese-Canadian heritage provided different grounding experiences than those of his Modernist peers.
Nakamura’s approach to abstraction was in many ways more methodical and precise than was that of his Canadian contemporaries, and his direct references to science and the natural world ran counter to the non-objective tenets typical of abstract painting. He liked to create his paintings in series, although he would work on multiple series concurrently to keep his thinking elastic. This non-linear approach to painting is uncommon, as most artists choose to focus on a single idea before moving on to the next. Regardless of the series, Nakamura’s oeuvre remained grounded in science and nature, which was an idea that preoccupied him for his entire career.
The title of Conic Structure alludes to the curving lines that divide the canvas in three. The painting is vaguely cartographic, marrying the mathematical approach with the natural land masses that it records. Its grid-like pattern is reminiscent of studies in perspective, especially its early-Renaissance origins with Duccio, an artist Nakamura whom referenced in his explanations of the “fundamental universal pattern in all art and nature.”
Conic Structure was part of a posthumous exhibition of his work called Nakamura: A Human Measure, held in 2004 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.