“Taro Okamoto and Masayoshi Nakamura TOKYO ART FESTIVAL”
In 1975, Japanese-style painter Masayoshi Nakamura (1924-1977) risked all the history and life he had built thus far as a painter to try and establish an entirely new art collective or organization in the static fine arts world of Japan.
Under the mentorship of Gakuryo Nakamura, Masayoshi Nakamura grew up in the Nitten (Japanese Fine Arts Exhibition). In 1946, however, he rebelled against the Nitten in order to change Japan’s fine arts world, and created the Tokyoten (Tokyo Exhibition) in spite of his sickness. For Nakamura, Tokyoten was the experiment that could reform, and the new entity that could bring transformation to, the whole of Japan’s fine arts world. To establish this new entity, he felt a more intense energy was necessary, and it was there that he enlisted the cooperation of Taro Okamoto. The First Tokyoten, held with the cooperation of a variety of individuals, was a gathering of more than 1,500 art works by an independent format. As a related event, the movie Nails was screened by Tenjo Sajiki (an independent theatre troupe) led by Shuji Terayama, using the staircases of the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum venue as a stage. With events such as these, rather than just an exhibition, they were able to create a hare (celebratory) atmosphere, very similar to that of a festival.
On the other hand, Taro Okamoto (1911-1996) returned to Japan in 1941 after staying more than ten years in Paris. He presented four art works he had created during his stay in Europe to the 28th Nikaten (Nika Art Exhibition), and received the Nika Award. Okamoto, who was demobilized in 1946, began to work once again as an artist, and in 1947, participated in the Nika Spring Exhibition. After the war, Okamoto strived to reform the whole of Japan’s fine arts world and as a flag-bearer of the avant garde movement, worked full force to deviate from the confines of the fine arts. However, all the while, Okamoto continued to take part in the Nikakai (Nika Association), and along with nurturing young artists, strived to reform the entire fine arts world from within the Association.
Coincidentally, it was in 1961 that Taro Okamoto withdrew from the Nikakai in August, and in June of the same year, Masayoshi Nakamura withdrew from Nitten.
This exhibition will be held in the Toyohashi City Museum, Art & History, and the Taro Okamoto Museum of Art, Kawasaki, located in the hometowns of Masayoshi Nakamura and Taro Okamoto, respectively. With the works exhibited in the Tokyoten—the common ground for Okamoto and Nakamura—as the main pillar, this exhibition will place Okamoto and Nakamura’s most notable works face to face, and attempt to allow visitors to experience the similarities and differences of the two artists through their works. We hope that this exhibition will be an opportunity for you to rethink about Japan’s current art scene.