Review: Gloppy abandon meets elegant restraint at Blum & Poe’s Kazumi Nakamura exhibition


Although he’s been painting since the 1980s, this is Kazumi Nakamura’s first solo exhibition in the U.S.

Kudos to Blum & Poe for its commitment to showing Japanese art in L.A. Upstairs is an excellent, whimsical exhibition of Japanese ceramics. Go see that too.

Nakamura’s show opens with bombast: “Hermitage 11” is a huge, black-and-white, diagonal grid that vibrates against your eyeballs so hard it might induce vertigo. It is surrounded by three other elegant, geometric abstractions, in restrained palettes of black, white, red and gold.


Then in the corner is what might be their ugly stepcousin, a roughly painted, riotously colored agglomeration of verticals and chevrons, also geometric, but barely so. It’s hard to believe it’s by the same artist.

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Yet as the show unfolds, it becomes clear that the two styles feed off of each other. In the lusciously watermelon-colored “Mt. Hafu IV,” thick, slapdash diagonals limn a rough network of zigzags. In the same room, “Moraine II” features a decorous web of flat, gold lines interrupted by verticals that create subtle misalignments.

It’s as if the joyous fury of the former has pushed its more disciplined relation off-kilter while the austere geometries of the latter have pulled its neighbor into its tidy orbit. Gloppy abandon rubs up against elegant restraint and the result is a deliciously tender balance.

Blum & Poe, 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., (310) 836-2062, through Oct. 24. Closed Sundays and Mondays.