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Kenji Nakayam Solo Show @ Fourth Wall Project


Kenji Nakayama Etude 41[/caption] You may have been to our gallery recently as we held our warehouse sale out of there last month.    We had a whole lot of superstars in the building digging through t-shirt mountain and the sneaker stax of doom - Soapdos of Madrid was helping,  the lo-life crew of Boston rolled through, Braun Draper(1/2 of Bladerunners) was spotted bleary eyed clutching some 10.5 Nikes.   It was a smorgasborg of human limbs. We're happy to announce that is over and we are starting preparations for a huge solo show for Kenji Nakayama's new body of work.  I saw it in person at a studio visit and I was geeked out immediately.   This represents a huge evolution for a career artist that has already mastered photo realistic stencils, sign painting and pin striping.    You are gonna love this.   The full press release is below.  

For Immediate Release       (PDF DL)

February 28, 2014

Contact: Oliver Mak,

Fourth Wall Project Announces “Études”, the first major Boston solo exhibition of Kenji Nakayama, Opens April 18, 2014

Fourth Wall Project is pleased to announce the first major Boston solo exhibition of artist Kenji Nakayama. Opening Friday, April 18, 2014 with a public reception from 7 to 9pm, “Études” marks a major departure in Nakayama’s oeuvre and debuts new bodies of work that are abstract and entirely focused on line, color, and texture.  The exhibition is curated by Kristen Wawruck and will be on view through May 18, 2014.

“Études” centers around forty-nine abstract compositions on paper that showcase the art of pinstriping–a technique of decorative painting that Nakayama has dedicated the last decade to mastering. Learning pinstriping was the impetus for Nakayama’s move to the US from Japan, and while his past pinstriping pieces have adorned text on signs, antique saws, motorcycles, and other practical surfaces, “Études” strips context and subject away in favor of a formalist exploration.

The exhibition title refers to the classical music composition format that is characteristically brief, albeit technically challenging, and provides a vehicle for virtuosity. This body of work was created over the last seven months, and for each piece, Nakayama worked within rigid parameters: black paper, acrylic line work, and a white enamel finish that serves as a compositional “anchor”–a black and white horizontal compass for line and color to live within.

The series begins with several rosettes created in summer and fall of 2013, which conjures stained glass, mandalas, and hubcaps. Nakayama’s work transitions organically from circular works to more calligraphic compositions that meander from central points, or–as with his later works, are repetitive and script-like. Later works in the series inspiration from Edo-era signage, which is defined by thick and heavy brushstrokes.

The number of works created in this series–forty-nine–refers to the period of mourning that is observed within Zen Buddhist traditions. Within this ritual, it is believed that the spirit of the deceased will transition into the next realm after a forty-nine day period; the forty-ninth day is celebrated by family and friends with a ceremony.

“Études”  features other works on repurposed objects and panels. A discarded crucifix is given a gold, red, and black pinstriping treatment that evokes Byzantine and Eastern Orthodox motifs, while other surfaces, such as mirrors, play host to totemic compositions that reference Pacific Northwest American Indian, Japanese Buddhist, and Ainu art. As with the Études series, these distinctive works are defined by symmetry and balance of line and color.

“Études” is made possible through the support of Converse, Inc. The exhibition is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 1PM to 6PM, Wednesday through Friday, and from 1PM to 5PM on Sunday.

“Études” is organized by Kristen Wawruck, a New York City-based arts professional. Additional information about the exhibition can be found here:

About The Artist:

Kenji Nakayama was born in Tomakomai on the island of Hokkaido, Japan in 1979. A mechanical engineer by education, Nakayama made a significant life change in 2004 with a move to Boston, Massachusetts to study traditional sign painting and to dedicate his time and energy to art-making. Nakayama’s diverse practice ranges from careful pinstriping and gilded lettering to hand-cut, multi-layered stencil paintings. Each intricately carved stencil painting is a unique manifestation of documenting and responding to the environment surrounding him, and often takes months to complete. His work serves as a personal diary of experience and influence, and his process can be described as a balance between meditation and highly-trained craftsmanship. Music, solitude, humor, motorcycles, and urban decay serve as direct sources of inspiration.

Nakayama’s work has been exhibited widely across the US and abroad in numerous solo and group exhibitions. He attended a mechanical institute from 1998-2002 in Tokyo, and studied traditional sign painting at Butera School of Arts 2004-2006 in Boston. Nakayama worked as a footwear designer at Converse from 2008 to 2013. In 2013, he began working with the Boston-based sign painting company Best Dressed Signs, in addition to working on independent projects. He currently lives and works in Boston.

About Fourth Wall Project:

Fourth Wall Project was founded in 2009 by the team behind iconic installation art/fashion space Bodega with a goal of creating more places for punks to loiter, artists to flourish, and facilitate exhibitions by emerging visionaries. The Bodega Crew’s original concept was to turn dormant commercial spaces into pop up gallery spaces, thus reclaiming urban space for public art projects and progressive exhibitions. Independent/DIY and local artist projects take priority in gallery programming, which is complemented by exhibitions of international artists. The gallery was awarded Boston’s Best Gallery by the Improper Bostonian in 2010. Fourth Wall Project is currently located at 132 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215.

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