In 1973 Kenji Nakahashi gave up his brief career in design and left his native Japan for New York City, where he lived and worked until his death. Although best known for his photo-based Conceptual art, Nakahashi (1947–2017) moved fluidly between mediums, experimenting with painting, drawing, and printmaking, in addition to photography.
Cutting out the Sky presents works from a recent gift to the MFAH of nearly 50 prints, drawings, and photographs from the 1970s and 1980s. Fascinated by the world around him, Nakahashi found creative inspiration in even the most mundane subjects—every new place he visited and each passing thought provided the spark for inventive, whimsical, humorous, or contemplative images.
In his photographs, Nakahashi toyed with expectations, playing with the disjunction of text and image, tricking the unobservant viewer into believing that time has weight or physical dimension, and rendering the rushing heights of New York skyscrapers as simple, flat abstractions. In his prints and drawings, uncanny shapes and forms that are almost, but not quite, familiar explore the strange and wonderful beauty of life’s everyday objects.
Cutting out the Sky: Kenji Nakahashi—Selections from the Museum’s Collection | August 13, 2019–January 1, 2020