Fourth Wall Project Announces “Études”, the first major Boston solo exhibition of Kenji
Nakayama, Opens April 18, 2014
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etude 44
For Immediate Release
March 1, 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,  â€œÃ‰tudes” 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  forty­nine  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, this exhibition 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.

The exhibition features several 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 hand­cut, multi­layered 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 The Curator:

Kristen Wawruck is the Grants Director at the New Museum and the Development Manager for Rhizome in New  York  City,  where  she  has  been  leading  institutional  fundraising  efforts  since  2010.  Last year,  she co-­organized “New  Museum Untapped: Music in the Park,” an outdoor music festival in conjunction with the 2013  IDEAS  CITY  Festival.  In  2012,  she  was  the  first  curator-­in-­residence  at the  Cambridge  Innovation Center in Cambridge, MA. Before moving to New York, she was the Manager of Government and Foundation Relations  at  the  Institute  of  Contemporary  Art  in Boston, MA, where she also organized “Experiment” live music and art events.

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.

Exhibition Image Selection
Note: All works are acrylic andenamel on paper, unless otherwise noted. 

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