Curated by Gabriela Rangel, this compact, powerful show is a perfect paradox: it manages to fit into a limited gallery space eight works made over the course of sixty-two years by an artist who constantly toys with the idea of an infinite work of art. As the pedants would put it: multum in parvo, lots in little. We see Tadaaki Kuwayama’s long career writ small, from 1960 until 2022. We’re missing work from the 1970s, but what we have is more than satisfying, again to put it pedantically, pars pro toto, the part that stands in for the whole. So, nothing like a retrospective, but enough of a retrospective for us to construct an artistic biography.
Tadaaki Kuwayama was born in Nagoya in 1932 and moved to New York in 1958. Trained in the Japanese nihonga modality, itself developed in the early-twentieth century as a traditionalist response to overly Westernized art-making in Japan, Kuwayama underwent a metamorphosis here. Akin to a religious conversion, his transformation from representational to non-objective artist must have been startling even to him. Why this happened is a mystery, but it does recapitulate the gradual liberation of painting in the Western world from mimesis.