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Momentum and synthesis gives way to sudden displacement in the fluid, cascading art of Akiko Nakayama, whose ever-shifting use of water, ink, oils and magnets create blooming ecosystems of colour and texture that pulsate with life—from images that evoke the chaotic beauty of the early stages of a terraforming planet, to those that emulate the tendrils of a plant reaching towards the sun.
Creating art since her youth, Nakayama studied drawing and oil painting at Tokyo’s Zokei University, but became dissatisfied with the static nature of the medium and images that could only suggest movement. Inspired by the swirling flow of colours that took place when cleaning her brush, she began creating prototypes of what would become her contemporary work— creating fountains that drip and ooze coloured water, and pioneering her first living paintings during friend’s concerts—favouring jazz and progressive rock artists for their tendencies to slowly coalesce their instruments into explosive finales. Her ever-shifting images have garnered global attention, including a talk at TED x Haneda explaining her process and detailing work that's in demand from clients and collaborators as varied as Tokyo Fashion Week, filmmaker Hendrik Willemyns, and Häagen-Dazs ice cream. Nakayama’s images are astounding on a technical level, with intricate use of magnetic elements creating unpredictable synthesis and violent disruption between colour and pattern. Nakayama’s mutational works reach for the emotions and imagination, creating moments and abstract metaphors where she says the meeting of two colours represents the dance of Yin and Yang.
Gracing MUTEK with a live performance in collaboration with pianist Eiichi Sawado, Nakayama’s organic, respiring, vibrant ecosystems of colour and materiality, invoke the possibilities of change—reminding us that existence is ephemeral fluidity itself.
The machine that Nakayama uses to stage her work was collaboratively designed with one of Japan’s first slide projector artists, now in his late 70s