Today we talk about

Yasunari Nakagomi

Nakagomi is a Japanese artist of enormous talent and spirituality and occupies a place of his own in the panorama of international contemporary art, combining the canon of Western beauty with the delicate power of Eastern art under a single artistic form.

The discovery of a personality like that of Nakagomi was also a decisive turning point in our individual lives and of the many others who met him in person or purchased and enjoyed his works.


The technique is very complex as the activity of the preparation of the canvas alone takes a very long time: this involves at least 5 levels of a luminous gold or silver plaster spread on the canvas and then sanded in order to obtain a surface smooth like silk whose touch seems as unreal.

Subsequently Nakagomi covers the canvas with layers of oil colors that make it full-bodied and thick. Later he begins his ritual action of eliminating the colors or rather erasing the layers of the previous application, in order to obtain the re-emersion of the gold or silver of the original gesso.

The artist’s pictorial technique proceeds first by accumulation and then by subtraction of color and the two moments are equivalent and balanced in an absolutely perfect balance.

The result is what Nakagomi calls “Landscapes”, that is, atmospheres of the mind that travels into the interior of one’s being. Spiritual states of mind or moments of concentration as it happens in so much of the oriental meditation technique.

The viewer is immersed in an atmosphere that irremediably brings him/her back to a personal experience made up of landscapes internalized from childhood or personal memories. In this way and inevitably Nakagomi reaches the soul of the viewer, penetrates him (her)into his(her)own interiority, bringing to the surface dormant memories, memories or personal experiences frozen in time.

Interview @ Yasunari Nakagomi

english version:

Q1. Production:Can you demonstrate to us your process of painting?

Don’t you dislike demonstrating your specialized custom painting techniques?

A1.  I don’t believe that the technique determines the spirit of the work, or the heart of the artist.  So I have no hesitation in sharing my techniques with those who can benefit in artistic expression by using them. An important thing is to train and believe in developing each artist’s expression through their art and images expressed.

Q2. How did you come to work on your “Landscape” series?

A2. I was inspired working away from Japan (overseas) and capturing the difference and openness of America’s Western vast endless space. I wanted to put myself in the world of American art, which was a major driving force in 20th century art, and to deepen my own expression through painting. American contemporary art developed in America, reflected the country’s history, religion, racial and ethnic diversity, societal evolution, industrial revolution economy, and many other things different from my own Japanese roots and culture.

I realized that going abroad does not mean painting that which I see as different, but rather experiencing a self-renewal in my artistic expression in my Landscape series of paintings. I no longer felt any sense of reality in what I had created under the influence of American art living in the United States. In other words, I had broken through a great mindset barrier to free my artistic expression and take it in a new direction.

During that period of self-discovery, I tried to paint something for myself; not for anyone or for anyone to see-but for myself as I moved my hands frantically across the canvas. The finished scene reminded me of the countryside in which I was born and raised; a scene I remembered from before I even entered elementary school. It was very different from what I had been creating based on my previous work of contemporary Western art. This was the birth of “Landscape” series which has led to the present day.

Q3. It’s as if you are in between the abstract and the figurative, evoking a variety of landscapes for the viewer. What is the appeal of your work?

A3  I’m not painting a landscape of a memory of somewhere. However, what people who have seen my work say is that it is the scenery from their memories. Through my work, I am talking about my past experiences and emotions, about myself and when I was in that space. What I have depicted through my own reflection has the effect of causing the viewers to reflect on their own. I think this way relates to the universal nature of art.

Q4 What is the plan for the exhibition at Arflex TOKYO? It is interesting to exhibit together with furniture in a space that is not a gallery, and I like to ask you if there are any differences in youe special perception and thought process.

A4: I believe that art works are not painted for the space of a museum or gallery, but for the people who see them. I chose the works of art to exhibit because I wanted to encourage people who have never had the experience of living with art in their daily lives, and of living with something that they have chosen with their own eyes, as a reference. I have heard from many people who have purchased my work that they have different impression with it viewed every day in their environment after they saw it just once at a gallery. I have noticed that people view things differently over time as they look at them, from day to day, season to season or bringing on different emotional moods of calm and enjoyment looking at the pictures.

Hence the universality of Nakagomi’s art that “strikes” the interiority of every being without aggression or upheaval, but in a respectful, veiled, delicate way like the all-oriental approach to the human person.

The “western” element of his art does not appear so evident at an immediate glance as Nakagomi has internalized it on a personal experiential level; the experience of American and Western art in the United States that has been part of his growth for about 20 years, remains within his awareness of the artistic fact: Nakagomi has internalized it so that he can indulge in a palette of unusual and partly bright colors, a palette that starts from dark tones such as browns and grays to flow into the sunniest oranges and intense and sensual reds.

A journey into Nakagomi’s universe is like a journey into a perfect fusion between East and West: a discovery that is renewed every time you move from one reality to another with a spirit of deepening and without superficiality.

A discovery that, beyond the many trivializations, still remains a mystery of the soul.

 Yasunari Nakagomi dialogues with Caravaggio @Pio Monte della Misericordia of Napoli in 2014

ARFLEX choice

Nakagomi’s paintings have been choosen from ARFLEX Japan to be included in the new catalog 2021