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The 69th Tadayoshi Nakabayashi: Unknown Voyage

June 11, 2016 - September 11, 2016

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Among the various techniques employed in intaglio, Nakabayashi works primarily in etching, and throughout his career he has focused on the process of decay within artistic production. He adopted this philosophy after being deeply moved by the words of poet Mitsuharu Kaneko (1895–1975): "Nothing can escape from decay." As this anecdote indicates, to Nakabayashi the phenomenon of decay is not simply a means of print production but rather a microcosm of this world in which creation and extinction repeat in neverending cycles, a condition he seeks to inject into his works. Nakabayashi's monochrome works, allegorically imbued with the light and shadow, life and death, of his creation, quietly but forcefully usher us into deep meditation.

In the course of his long career as an intaglio artist, Nakabayashi has passed through a number of turning points. The greatest among them occurred in the mid-1970s. After spending a year in Europe, then suffering the death of his mentor, Tetsuro Komai, shortly after his return to Japan, compounded by health issues stemming from the toxic substances he used in etching, Nakabayashi resolved to return to the basic mode of artistic expression using copper plates. His Position series started in 1977 was his attempt to confirm once again his own position within the real world, doing so by taking familiar materials—withered grass, pebbles, etc.—and realistically fixing them to his works by the technique of image transfer. Meanwhile in his Transposition series launched in parallel in 1978, Nakabayashi essayed a deeper self-referential approach to the medium of intaglio itself. In Transposition he deals mainly with the essence of copperplate print expression: the "transposition" of real images into his works via copper plates, or the conflict and harmony between white and black. Nakabayashi continues to create the Transposition series today, and these are now works representative of the artist.

This exhibition traces Tadayoshi Nakabayashi's path as a creative artist with exhibits centering on his core intaglio works spanning from his earliest years to today, with emphasis on his Position and Transposition series. The exhibition title, "Unknown Voyage," is taken from those same words gracing the door to the laboratory where he performs the etching process, words alluding to the uncontrollable and unpredictable process of biting used in intaglio production. They also refer to the long journey—starting from his first works of more than half a century ago—during which Nakabayashi has, in that lab, created the many works we see today. We hope this exhibition will provide numerous visitors with an opportunity to become familiar with both those works and Nakabayashi's philosophy.