Mutsumi Nakanishi 【English】


The “feel-good factor” shared by artist and spectator through the painting...

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Maintaining the feel-good factor

Gallery Sakuranoki has been staging exhibitions of Nakanishi’s work annually now for twenty years. Over the years we have discussed all sorts of things at the gallery, but one conversation I remember especially vividly, concerned “matière.”

The French term matière is often used to describe the roughness or smoothness of the surface of an oil painting, for instance, and in the dictionary, is described variously as the artistic effects/texture brought about by materials/qualities of materials.

Nakanishi told me that perhaps matière is the most suitable word to describe the sensation only conveyed by contact with “genuine” expression, as opposed to a copy. As someone involved in art, having heard this, I felt I now understood it clearly.

“You find the word matière used in novels, or in speech, to mean for example that this person has a good way of communicating something, or a way that feels good, or awful. The feeling you get from contact with a person’s expression. The texture, grain, tonality of an actual object. Expression cannot exist, in any form, without matière. For those on the receiving end, I suspect matière is a more important element than the subject portrayed. Matière is an important term that applies to everything in the expressive domain.”

Mutsumi Nakanishi 「Early summer」 wash, 25 x 100 cm


Mutsumi Nakanishi 「Grass」 wash, 60 x 150.2 cm


Our talk then turned to the “feel-good factor” shared by artist and spectator in the painting.

“Say I painted a flower. The painter, as they paint, wants the flower to bloom in this kind of atmosphere. Next, say I painted an apple. Now even say there is someone who likes my picture of an apple, this means that not any apple picture will do: it has to be this one. The artist has their feelings, the spectator their own, and somewhere along the line, they understand each other. This is not something you can identify in words. It’s what makes paintings interesting, and fun too.”

“If you say I’m this way, look at me this way, your painting will not be shared. Pictures are something one engages with over a long period, so this sort of one-way thinking will not lead to sharing. The emotion of engaging with a painting is all there is; the mysterious way that good feeling is earnestly shared between the painting, and the person who looks at it. Women in particular will intuitively see something as ‘Kawaii! (cute)’ or ‘not cute’: nothing to do with the artist’s background, whether they’re famous or not. That connecting through feeling good, is I suppose, the fascinating thing about painting.”

「Autumn glow」41x27cm         「Peaches on dish」22.7×15.8cm               「Mountain peonies」22.3×15.8cm

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the 23rd “World of Mutsumi Nakanishi” exhibition

September 8 ~ 23 . 2018

at Gallery Sakuranoki GINZA

closed on Tuesday & Public holidays