Kinji Nakamura taking a time out to pose for a photo. Photo credit Stack Jones.
In Kyoto during any given summer, the blistering heat collides with one of the cities most celebrated attractions. Daimonji! As I waited for night to fall, I sought refuge in the Arashiyama mountains where it‘s always much cooler than the searing basin below. I had just finished photographing Otagi Nebutsuji, which is one of my favorite places in the region, and decided it was time to head to the main area of Arashiyama, and scope out a spot to view the festivities before it got too crowded.
Upon arriving back to the town, I was surprised to see that it was nearly empty. Strolling along the Ayashiro River, while eating ice cream to stay cool, I decided that finding a good spot to view the mountain fires wouldn’t be much of an issue. So my gal and I decided to take a stroll along the trail that leads to the famous bamboo path known as Suzumushi, While on the trail I stumbled upon a sidewalk exhibition that was offered on display by a painter who introduced himself as Kinji Nakamura.
Back in Hollywood, not long before the U.S. economy imploded inward on itself, I had represented some of the finest contemporary painters in the world. I often visited galleries, and graduation exhibitions, but honestly, it was quite rare to discover a talent that leaped out of the fray. But, on this day Kinji Nakamura’s labor of love left me yearning to learn more about the man, his passion, and his talent. I was compelled to exchange information, and arrange for an interview.
During the interview, I needed my questions, and the artist’s answer translated, which was performed magnificently by Miyuki Suzuki, who always claims that her English communication abilities lack much to be desired. Somehow this “lack of ability” always results in a job well done. Kinji Nakamura’s interview would be no different.
K. Nakamura: Bamboo painting.
Stack Jones: Mr. Nakamura, where are you originally from?
Kinji Nakamura: I grew up in Minoo City in Osaka prefecture.
Stack Jones: Can you share with us any information about your family?
Kinji Nakamura: I have two sons, two grandchildren, and although I am now divorced from my former wife, we are still great friends.
Stack Jones: What was the determining factor that made you decode to become an artist?
Kinji Nakamura: There wasn’t one specific occurrence that stands out for me. I’ve always loved the arts, but I was determined to take up painting seriously when I was forty-eight years old. That was back in 1992, some twenty years ago.
Stack Jones: Before painting, what did you do professionally?
Kinji Nakamura: I had studied law at Kansai University, and then worked at a law firm so I could eventually become a lawyer.
Stack Jones: What artists, philosophers, and writers influence your style?
Kinji Nakamura: Many arts, including literature, movies, music, and theatre continue to influence me to this day. I have also been impressed by the teachings of Dalai Lama, who teaches the transcending universe faith. The movie Gaia Symphony, which was produced by Tatsumura Jin, has also left a lasting impression on me as well. Through these mediums, I began to feel that human’s coexisted with nature, and not in spite of it. My favorite author is Kitakata Kenzou, and I’ve read almost all of his work. But the book that has influenced me the most is an ancient Chinese history novel that Miyagitani Masamitsu wrote.
K. Nakamura: Influenced by the sea.
As for painting, I’ve studied a lot of artists. My favorites are Dali, Goya, Turner, Monet, Friedrich, Okamoto Taro, Kayama Matazo, Tanaka Isson, Jakuchuu, Yokoyama Taikan and Jimmie Oonishi. All of them have different approaches, but their sensibility, sense and world perspectives impress me.
Stack Jones: Have you had the chance to travel abroad to some of the places that have influenced your artistic approach?
Kinji Nakamura: Yes, I traveled to Spain on my first overseas trip. That was back in 1989. I was so drawn to the place that I returned, really experiencing the culture, and indulged myself in the scenic beauty of the country. It was during this event that I decided to paint in Spain. My two sons didn’t oppose me chasing the kind of gold that I sought at the end of rainbows.
Stack Jones: What is the most difficult part of creating a new piece?
Kinji Nakamura: I feel that emotion is more important to creating art than the technique used. I think this is true when it comes to my paintings. The proportion of technique as opposed to sensibility is probably a ratio of two to eight. I strive to reproduce a form of magnificence, and adoration that I hope exists somewhere inside of me. This is what I am always attempting to reveal in my work.
Stack Jones: What inspires you to create?
Kinji Nakamura: When I see nature, in it’s most beautiful state. I feel I can make dialogue with the natural elements that exists, such as life in trees. This gets me excited, and becomes the catalyst that helps me to paint a scene as I see it, and feel it.
Stack Jones: Do you plan on experimenting in any other mediums?
Kinji Nakamura: I plan to paint an elaborate picture in pencil, and compose a poem by way of a writing brush.
K. Nakamura: A vision of Kyoto in the evening.
Stack Jones: Where has your work been exhibited in the past?
Kinji Nakamura: I hold a one-man show in rotation in the cities of Osaka, and Tokyo. Please take a look at my homepage: http:/asahi-net.or.jp/~ps2k-nkmr/index.html. I keep information about those exhibitions current. Most recently I had an exhibition in Osaka’s Masago Gallery, which was from October 28th to November 3rd of this year.
Stack Jones: Are there any exhibitions planned for the near future?
Kinji Nakamura: Yes, I am currently planning exhibitions overseas in Spain, New York, London, Paris and Taiwan.
Stack Jones: How do people who visit Kyoto view your work?
Kinji Nakamura: Most Japanese think that I only sell my work as a hobby. But foreigners see me as an artist, and appraise my work for its merit. I think this is the great difference between the Japanese, and other cultures.
Stack Jones: Are there any last words, or thoughts that you’d like the readers to know about you before we go our separate ways?
Kinji Nakamura: Yes, I’m a breath control doctor, as well as a lawyer. I meditate every day. It helps me in my personal life, my health and in my work as a painter. I also want to convey what nature has to offer to the medium of art, and to the world. I would like to communicate this merrily, as in a magnificent dream.