Kazuo Nakamura was born in Vancouver, but his Japanese heritage was enough reason for the Canadian government to intern him, along with his family, in mainland British Columbia during the Second World War. When the war was over, they started fresh in Ontario, first in Hamilton and then in Toronto, where Nakamura enrolled in the Central Technical School. He then turned to painting and joined the artists of Painters Eleven, a group described as “an island in the sea of Canadian art” at their debut exhibition at Roberts Gallery in 1954.
Nakamura’s methodical approach to abstraction was distinct among his peers, as were his references to nature and science. He said, “I think there’s a sort of fundamental universal pattern in all art and nature. Painters are learning a lot from science now. In a sense, scientists and artists are doing the same thing. This world of pattern is a world we are discovering together.” Nakamura’s quiet independence cultivated his immeasurable creativity. He painted in multiple styles at once, elucidating the challenges of speaking to an artist’s evolution as linear progress, an idea that is often counterproductive when discussing his oeuvre. Reflections exemplifies important themes that appear throughout Nakamura’s body of work regardless of style.
Meditative and powerful, this painting is firmly rooted in nature, yet eschews quotidian details in favour of the universal.
Signed lower right; signed, titled and dated verso
Private collection, London
NASGAARD, Roald. Abstract Painting in Canada, Vancouver, Douglas & McIntyre; Halifax, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 2007.
Anne Whitelaw, Brian Foss, and Sandra Paikowsky. Visual Arts in Canada: The Twentieth Century, Toronto, 2010.
DUVAL, Paul. American Abstract Artists: 20th Annual Exhibition with “Painters Eleven” of Canada, New York, 1956.