Critics’ Picks

View of “Masato Nakamura,” 2015

View of “Masato Nakamura,” 2015


Masato Nakamura

3331 Arts Chiyoda
6-11-14 Sotokanda Chiyoda-Ku
October 10–November 23, 2015

After his Japanese pavilion exhibition at the Forty-Ninth Venice Biennale, Masato Nakamura left behind his art practice in favor of leading numerous art initiatives. Questioning the roles of society and education in contemporary art practices, his post-Venice projects also sought to sustain meaningful communication with local communities, such as those surrounding 3331 Arts Chiyoda, his venue in the central Tokyo neighborhood of Kanda. His current solo exhibition, “Luminous Despair,” is his comeback as a practicing artist. Staying true to his closely held interest in locality, his new works call upon the skills of traditional craftspeople in factories around Japan. In one room are six vintage-style human-size dolls (ningyo) commissioned by Nakamura and produced at one such factory. In another room, highly reflective paintings were made with the expertise of Japanese car manufacturers.

As well as ending Nakamura’s long hiatus, the main body of the exhibition looks back at the Korean and Japanese art scenes from the early 1990s, in which Nakamura was a major participant. (He lived in Seoul between 1989 and 1992.) In his photos of key players, artists such as Takashi Murakami and Tsuyoshi Ozawa are still experimenting with what would become their more recognizable practices. Alongside gallerists and writers, they are young and free; they sit around in tiny apartments, get drunk on the streets, and cause disruptions to everyday life through performances and installations. It’s valuable documentation of an exciting time for contemporary art in Japan’s urban spaces, delivered on an intimate level.