Alone with Materials

Vol. 8 MANIKA NAGARE, at her studio in Tokyo, Japan, September 2020

In this video, the Tokyo-based painter Manika Nagare discusses her inspiration and methodology while creating her new body of work "In Between" this spring during Tokyo's "pause" period.

In her country, Japan, Nagare is recognized as one of the distinguished artists who explore colors, particularly indigenous colors associated with nature and culture. In her new abstract paintings, Nagare focuses on "light," an essential element to appreciate colors. Her new body of work in our upcoming exhibition "In Between" was influenced by recent personal events, as her work has always been her visual response to real phenomena in everyday life.

Manika Nagare‘s color abstract paintings derive from ephemeral phenomena in the real world. In her previous work, she emphasized the superb beauty and fearsome force of natural landscapes to express her feelings about Japan’s catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis. In this new body of work “In Between,” Nagare also retraces her feelings about a real event, but this time it is very personal – the death of her father, a sculptor who passed away two years ago at the age of 95.

Through a Distant Eye, 2020, oil on canvas, 35 1/4 x 57 1/4 in / 89.5 x 145.4 cm © Manika Nagare, Photo: Ken Kato

She expresses her feelings by the keyword “In Between.” It is a signifier for the hypothetical space where life is reaffirmed while death is approaching. She remembers seeing an intense light and feeling how exquisitely the plants were spreading their leaves, when the lives of her loved ones were near the end. Inspired by this vision, the artist exclaims:

“Now, the world is uniformly conscious of life. Now is the time to find the light and feel the life.”

In Between #1, 2020, oil on canvas, 23 7/8 x 16 1/8 in / 60.6 x 41 cm © Manika Nagare, Photo: Ken Kato

In these works, Nagare strives to release her complex emotions much like nature flows in an irreversible order. Her dramatic use of unmixed colors such as orange, pink, green, and blue brightens and darkens each space like fire and ice. Her biomorphic lines flow with smooth but unpredictable rhythm like water. Her brushstrokes on canvas are as light as a feather caressing skin. In Nagare’s painting, all these evocative elements coexist organically as in nature itself. Furthermore, she conceives her painting as a two-way mirror to invite the viewer to become immersed in the painted image.

To the Otherside, 2020, oil on canvas, 35 1/4 x 31 7/8 in / 89.4 x 81 cm © Manika Nagare, Photo: Ken Kato

Manika Nagare was born in Osaka in 1975 and raised in Kagawa, Japan. She studied painting at the Joshibi University of Art and Design. She has been exhibiting her work in Japan, the United States, Turkey, and France among other international venues. Her work is represented by numerous international public and private collections such as the Takamatsu City Museum, Takamatsu, Japan, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Karuizawa, Nagano, Japan, and the Kocaeri University Museum, Turkey. In addition to painting, Nagare’s work also includes a number of public art projects on which she closely works with curators, designers, architects and community boards. In fashion, her paintings have been applied to textiles as well as costumes for dancers.

Takamatsu Contemporary Art Annual Vol. 05 ”Visible/Invisible Sceneries” Takamatsu City Museum, Kagawa, Photo: Keizo Kioku