”… I think there’s a sort of fundamental universal pattern in all art and nature. Painters are learning a lot from science now. In a sense, scientists and artists are doing the same thing. This world of pattern is a world we are discovering together.”
– Kazuo Nakamura in Roald Nasgaard’s Abstract Painting in Canada
Kazuo Nakamura was one of the founding members of the Toronto-based Canadian abstract group Painters Eleven. His interest in the relation between mathematical perfection and visual medium led him to investigate the ways in which form and dimension are linked. His analytical approach inspired many abstract painters.
Born in Vancouver in 1926, Nakamura was only 15 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour, and his internment in camps on the West Coast inspired his early watercolours. He went on to study at the Central Technical School in Toronto, graduating in 1951. In October 1953, Nakamura took part in “The Abstracts at Home,” a seminal show held at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, which ushered a new era in Toronto painting. The meetings between the avant-garde artists who participated in the show gave rise to Painters Eleven. The group ran until 1960.
From his early stylized landscape paintings, Nakamura moved towards more abstract compositions, which represented his interpretations of the “universal patterns” found in nature as predicated by science. Works like Landscape, Green Hill-side (1954) illustrate the artist’s fascination with these universal patterns. Near the end of his life, Nakamura began creating calligraphy-like works composed of strings of numbers, along with his more colourful, abstract pieces. He was part of numerous national and international exhibitions. A touring exhibition of his artwork travelled throughout Canada in 2001–2002.