Nouvelle vague japonaise
du Japon à Monaco.

Period: From 23 September to 7 October 2014
Opening party: 23 September at 18h
Place: Galerie Carré Doré Monaco

Heir to a tradition going back thousands of years, the nihonga paintings, Nakamura Tetsuei is an artist whose work is loaded with expertise and delicacy. Born in 1960 in Tokyo, Tetsuei came to Paris at the age of twenty in order to study at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. Since it was established in the 19th century, the legendary studio in Montparnasse has welcomed artists from around the world, drawn to Paris, capital of all that is avant-garde. Here, Tetsuei took a course which offered instruction revolving around observational drawing, sketching and life drawing. This experience was crucial. In Paris he met a compatriot, his senior, the painter Toshimitsu Imaï who put Tetsuei to work under his guidance. This pictorial collaboration with one of the masters of Japanese abstract art was an experience which marked him for a long time. The Paris that he discovered brought its share of surprises, including meeting Alain Jouffroy, poet and writer, who did him the honour of writing the preface for his first solo exhibition at the Maison du Japon in Paris in 1981. Nakamura did not follow Imaï’s route of abstraction, however, preferring to return to his roots, creating figurative fresco compositions that call for contemplation, for the artist followed from now on the way of nihonga (literally: Japanese painting), the traditional Japanese pictorial path which follows extremely specific codes.
The works in the Du Japon à Monaco. Nouvelle vague japonaise [From Japan to Monaco. Japanese new wave] exhibition at the Carré Doré gallery in Monaco all come from this nihonga tradition. Nakamura plunges us into a floral and Edenic world: camellia flowers, goldfish, branches of flowering cherry, peonies, irises...
The triptych of patrinia, lespedeza, volubilis on a gold background is in the tradition of realist compositions. The attention to detail is striking. The goldfish, with lifelike scales, float in iridescent water. Compositions of undulating waves are all the more stylised in order to create an effect which is more decorative than realistic. The recurring wave (nami) theme of Japanese prints symbolises both the passivity and the violence of the action. Tetsuei has succeeded in revitalizing the nihonga wave genre by imparting all the creative or destructive power (depending) into the stylistic treatment of the wave. The white foam is no more than a pretext for rebalancing a composition overrun with the explosion of waves. These are composed of fine parallel white lines conveying all the rhythmic cadence of the waves which reach towards the depths. No place for man who would come to disturb this balance. Nature reveals itself. Flowers in lustrous colours stand out from a plain background, covered in gold leaf, silk (eginu) or Japanese paper (washi) mounted on wooden panels. Each element of the composition is of natural origin: lacquer, gold (kin) or silver (gin) leaf, sand, mineral pigments (iwa enogu), earth base (doro enogu) or shells (gofun) mixed with animal glue (nikawa), ink (sumi) made from charcoal. The wood used for the backing also has its significance, it is chosen for its rings and its scent. The artist affixes a colour gradation in multiple shades that provide the balance between the colour values to this background. The yohaku (part of the work left without any figurative or decorative motifs) brings great potency to the composition. The eye of the beholder, first drawn in by the central motif, is snagged by this neighbouring emptiness, because empty and full are interdependent.
Tetsuei invites us on a spiritual journey.

Clotilde Scordia
Clotilde Scordia est historienne de l’art, commissaire d’exposition indépendante.
Secrétaire générale de l’Association de Rapprochement Culturel Japon-France (ARC-JF).