Tadashi Nakayama Biography

Tadashi Nakayama





Tadashi Nakayama was born in Niigata, Japan, in 1927, the son of an village officer. He began drawing in his early teens, and enrolled at Tama Art College in 1945 with a focus on oil painting. He first learned woodcut in 1951, and it soon became his preferred medium. His first full show of works took place in 1956. At this time his style was firmly rooted in Abstract Expressionism, choosing bold lines and colors for his depictions of zoological and botanical subjects. He also began producing his earliest girl-and-flower compositions, a recurring theme that last through much of his career.


In 1962 he took his first international excursion, traveling to Turkey, Greece, India, and Europe, and living part time in Italy and England until 1965. Persian miniatures, Byzantine frescoes and illuminated texts, as well as the horse paintings of Renaissance artist Paolo Uccello, became among the longest lasting influences on Nakayama's work. Though he continued to paint and to practice other forms of printmaking, such as color lithography, it was at this time that Nakayama began to focus more exclusively on woodcuts.


Nakayama's style borrowed as much from his country's own celebrated ukiyo-e woodcut style as classical European art. By the 1980s his prints, which still exhibited the clean, delineated lines that woodcut imparts, now incorporated minutely complex compositions. He had almost entirely abandoned the simple, bold strokes of Abstract Expressionism that had carried his prints from the 1950s onward. A vivid, complex delicacy now dominated his works, and more of the Persian influence began to show in the patterned borders and gold leafed highlights. Additionally, he printed by hand, preferring the baren to a press. These new prints became more time consuming and Nakayama produced only one or two editioned prints a year.


Tadashi Yakanama continued to work through the 1990s, becoming established as one of Japan's leading woodblock artists. He died in Japan in 2014.