Rakuko Naito reviewed by Robert Morgan in The Brooklyn Rail

This exhibition of nine works by Japanese artist Rakuko Naito now on view at Alison Bradley Projects in Chelsea reveals a story that defines her aspirations from the late 1950s to the present. It is the story of an emigrant artist who moved with her husband, the artist Tadaaki Kuwayama, from their homeland in East Asia to New York City. It was here that Naito discovered her direction as an artist. There is a Japanese term used to describe traditional painting. It is called Nihonga. This is what she studied in Tokyo prior to her arrival here in 1958. Although Naito had familiarized herself with Western-style art, most of what was called “art” in New York at that time functioned in a very different way from the figurative paintings of Nihonga.

While her affiliation with Nihonga was still present upon her arrival in New York, Naito began moving quickly toward acrylic painting on canvas, which the artist understood as “American material” given that the art materials available in Japan at that time were very different from what she found in New York. During this early period of the mid-1960s, Naito became acquainted with various painters, including Sam Francis. The concept of showing works from the early period of her career was decided at the outset by the gallerist Alison Bradley. 

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December 8, 2021
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