Hitoshi Nakazato|Painting Outside Part Ⅱ

Dates|March 18 – April 9, 2023
Venue|MEM map
Open Hours|13:00 – 19:00
The gallery is closed on Mondays that are not national holidays. (Except when Monday falls on a holiday, in which case the gallery is open and closed the following day.)


Hitoshi Nakazato (1936-2010) first went to the US in 1962. He returned to Tama Art University, his alma mater, to teach for several years, but he spent the rest of his career as an artist in New York City.

When Nakazato arrived in the US, the influence of Abstract Expressionism was waning. Counterculture sparked artistic movements like Neo-Dada and Pop Art which incorporated images from popular culture; fragments of daily life tumultuously invaded the sacrosanct realm of painting. These art movements were a formal objection to the notion of high art secluded in the ivory tower. Anti-Vietnam War protests were taking place on university campuses throughout the US. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Nakazato returned to Japan through Europe and encountered the civil unrest in Paris in May 1968. It was a time of rebellion against the establishment. Japan was also experiencing revolutionary fervor as student protestors blockaded classrooms at the Tama Art University. Student-led organizations forced faculty members, including Nakazato, to confess their complicity to the establishment. Living through such a time, Nakazato confronted the contradictions of an artist living in contemporary society. He even considered stopping painting but deliberately chose to continue working in the medium, simultaneously striving to break free from the realm of painting. With this premise, he began his own painting revolution rooted in his determined thought processes and tenacious physical endurance.

Printmaking provided a valuable means for Nakazato’s abstract images. He first encountered cutting-edge printmaking methods in the US, and mastering multi-color single-plate printing propelled the development of his abstract art.

The first of two, this exhibition will introduce and investigate the relationships between his experimentations in printmaking and his works on canvas. We will focus on Nakazato’s radical transition from his minimalist style of the 70s to his color field formulations of the 80s.


Hitoshi Nakazato
Born in 1936, Machida. Graduated from Tama Art University with oil painting major. Worked for Hokkai Times (Hokkaido) as an art reporter. 1962 University of Wisconsin Graduate School, 1964 University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Fine Arts. 1968 taught at Tama Art University. 1971 returned to the US and taught at the University of Pennsylvania. 2010 passed away in New York during his solo exhibition at the Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts.
Public Collection: Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art, Osaka National Museum of Art, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Contemporary Art, Ohara Museum of Modern Art, New York Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, and more.

Hitoshi Nakazato, Interview at his studio in New York in 1989.


Further readings

Reiko Tomii, “Painting Outside: Hitoshi Nakazato’s “Post-Painting Painting,” as Reexamined through Printmaking”, 2022