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Aesthetics of Discovery and Interference
Jiho Lee (Chief Director of LEEUNGNO MUSEUM)


Akiko Nakayama is a young Japanese artist that mixes different art forms, including painting, performance, and video, to search for a new world of art called <Alive Painting>. When the public’s understanding of the material used to make colors on a canvas or paper is paint, Nakayama focuses on the fancy chemical reaction that occurs as soon as the paint drops into water and turpentine. Her attempts could be found in her work <In Silence>(2018). 40 minutes of performance, music, and video clips, that look like the footage of movement of microorganisms, bring a magical experience to the audience with a glamorous beauty of unexpected new images.

The anxiety that approaches when the captured moment of a giant wave of condensed energy from a physical phenomenon occurs as a substance reaction with another substance that draws near leads to a beautiful paradox.

The artist said, “I want to use different types of liquids with unique properties to portray the resonance between the shape and texture.” It is the moment when it meets the oriental thinking of a painting being found instead being drawn.

Frequently, the process of creating art becomes art itself, but her aesthetic attitude that interferes with the reaction that occurs from a chemical combination of two substances is an attempt and a challenge to break away from existing forms of art. The artist’s intention coincides with contemporary art that is analogous to a future society where the materials and the world of consciousness are mixed.

What do we consider a masterpiece? They are mostly paintings drawn by great artists like the Mona Lisa in the Louvre and Guernica in the Prado Museum. We go to the art museums to see these masterpieces with our own eyes. Objects named by prominent experts, registered in the collections of world-famous museums and exhibitions. What is behind the dry paint on these masterpieces that survived from a few years to a few hundred years? “All of the paintings from the past felt dead to me,” said the artist. Rather than when a painting is finished, the moment when the artist coats the brush with paint, mixes it on a palette, and paints on the canvas are the time when the artistic inspiration reaches its peak. <Alive Painting> started as a method to extend the beauty of the moment when the paints mix by themselves. Its aesthetic connection is found in the calligraphy of writing with one stroke of a brush.

The artist’s defiant thought that crosses boundaries in art and ignores the form of art, music, and events, and that searches for the voluntary and unexpected moments, is seen to be affected by the Gutai (具体) inheritance in the 60s and the Mono-ha (物派) movement in the 70s. It is more related to the art of Nam June Paik that reversed the idea that art is fixed and still by destroying the originality and exclusiveness of art by using TV screens that can be duplicated anytime and anywhere, creating video art that broke away from the original function of the TV, that of delivering a screen of complete art without the participation of the audience, to showing unconventional, spontaneous performances at exhibition halls and in the street. In particular, the artist’s attempt to achieve interactive art using a new digital medium to tear down the boundaries between a virtual space and a real space, and to produce an interaction with the audience as the outcome, is connected to the art of Nam June Paik.

Nakayama’s aesthetic background, which began with her criticism of classical art and the new 4th technological revolution, is the value and meaning of her art. The world of art she will display in the future is unpredictable, but it will definitely be a beautiful one. I hope the time she spends at Artist Residency TEMI acts as fertilizer for her career in art.

AKIKO NAKAYAMA – Splendid Chance

Criticism by John K. Grande


Akiko Nakayama’s  Brush Water Painting is phenomenological, a kind of fluid flux performance or journey of discovery we can all participate in. The materials, often locally chosen, express the country or region where she is performing, so they affirm a bio-regional aesthetic without any nationalist rhetorical bias. Nature is in the art. And the art is all movement and change. Chance and change. So difficult it must have been in art school, for Akiko to receive strong criticism in traditional painting classes. While watching with the paint flow off her brushes, while washing them up after class, she found she enjoyed this sensation more than the art in class. As she says, “When washing the brush, I felt that the ink flowing in the water is very beautiful, even more than the calligraphy which is said to be beautiful.” 1

This was the beginning of Akiko’s artistic vision, so free and poetic, along with childhood memories of dew drops of rain, all those tiny magical details a child sees.  
Ephemerality is suggestive of eternal presence and cannot be captured…
It is needless to affirm that Akiko Nakayama’s fascinating approach to art has unintentional affinities with the Gutai legacy, notably Yoshihara Michio’s sound and light sculpture interventions. Gutai were splendid players, and Akiko Nakayama’s splendid love of chance and change, mirror the Mono Ha or Gutai movements intentions The spontaneous, unpredictable magic of it all relies on a lack of inhibition, on a total unself-consciousness that is at the heart of art.

In the way matter talks, the way it can be orchestrated but never controlled, Akiko Nakayama’s process is the art and vice versa. Art and science are inseparable, as physics, and the minimal gestures she makes, orchestrating projections onto spaces worldwide affirm a language of presence in the moment. Even Allan Kaprow’s unself-conscious and immediate performances  come to mind. As  Kaprow once affirmed, “(…) it is no longer possible to exist purely and simply as a nation and culture separate from other nations and cultures.” In the realm of art making, Kaprow  saw fluid dynamics in a world-wide system of exchange. “We can only guess at the next step: a non-national language of painting, perhaps of speaking too, in which a ‘world style’ is given variety and richness by a range of accents modifying it in each country where it is practiced, where the only mark an old culture will have on art is to slightly color something that does not belong to it alone.”2

The medium Akiko Nakayama has chosen is an extension of the body, and as such the event is less about the subject, than breathing life and the impossibility of capturing time. The boundaries, the ways colours move with fluidity become an intermediatic equation for Yin and Yang – BALANCE.

Paint moves with light. Akiko Nakayama is merging sound with projections now, like a DJ mixer, and the language of her art has no conceptual codes that could transfix it. Like a butterfly moves to light, we see the movements, and capture the way matter changes, only to see it escape our conception. Never the same, always interesting, a way of being – Akiko Nakayama thank you! 

Ephemeral as silence, with echoes of John Cage’s performances, where audiences did not know what to expect, but always were surprised, Akiko’s performances are less about conventions of avant-gardism, or music or art stereotypes. She is not trying to confirm stereotypes. The visual is sound and the sound is visual. It all happens in the way we perceive, sense, the experience as a totality in microscosm / macrocosm. The filters, floating images are matter talking. Matter has a voice. The voice of matter is all encompassing - universal. Matter does not need a language. It has its own. We are like children with no language, listening, and seeing… Splendid Playing Akiko Nakayama!

John K. Grande

1. Akiko Nakayama cited from interview with WomenCinemakers, 2018
2. Allan Kaprow Rutgers University address, 1953, Gutai catalogue, Guggenheim Museum of Art, Thames & Hudson,  2012, p. 265. see also  Allan Kaprow, “The International Set in Painting,” Rutgers Report  on World Affairs, 1955, Allan Kaprow Archives, box 46, folder 4, Getty Research Institute, Santa Monica, California


John K. Grande

Writer, curator and poet John K. Grande is a leading figure in the field of art and ecology. His latest book is Art Space Ecology; Two Views Twenty Interviews (Black Rose / U. Of Chicago, 2018).

Brief bio + publications for John K. Grande...

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