The Canadian Art Database

Kazuo Nakamura
Toronto (from a taped interview, 15 August 1967)

nakamura image
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Tower Structure 1967
30 1/2"H, 7 1/2"W, 7 1/2"D

Sculpture is a man's job, more so than painting, because it is physically harder work. Intellectually, it is no more demanding; and as an art form it is superior only because of its permanence. Still, hard work interests me; and I like the idea of leaving something behind.

My concern in sculpture, as in my structural painting, is with the 'atomic particle moving perpetually in space. Where unnatural perfection is static, natural imperfection implies motion. My tower-structures are imperfect. Their surfaces of natural concrete retain the imperfections (and hence, the motion) of the medium itself, which polishing would destroy. They move in space with the rhythm of slight asymmetry, like a constant, subtle shifting of the component strips or blocks. Such simple geometrie forms, bare of all "period" decoration, are always timeless in essence. Although for me these structures seem to project our own time toward a future of stacked-tower environments, for other people they may well evoke relies of an ancient past. In either case, I am obviousiy working with structural echoes of architecture. Since 1958, I have alternated angular open-cage forms with blocky constructions: even in painting I use a block stroke. And though I work "small", I try to achieve, through correct proportion, an architectural command of space.

The contribution of the artist is to extend visual knowledge as a way of understanding our universe. I, as an artist, am never wholly isolated from anyone else, from the labourer or the scientist. We are all, each in his own way, making a new society, or a part of that society. On the other hand, since some perception and foresight beyond the norm is a necessary attribute of the functioning artist, I must admit to a certain sense of unavoidable "apartness".

In any period of art there is always an accepted mainstream and an outer fringe, not yet accepted, that tries new ideas. And then, in time, that outer fringe becomes the influence of another mainstream. Although I am as much concered with the future, with what is going to happen, as with the present, when I am actually painting or making sculpture I just try to work out my own ideas, with no conscious thought of a breakthrough. If I am truly inventive, I will inevitably work on that outer fringe, where every real artist yearns to be... although most of us today are not quite sure just how we should place ourselves!

nakamura portrait

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