A painter from a young age

Sayaka Nakagawa © T. Joly
A young and promising Japanese artist, Sayaka Nakagawa has lived, painted and exhibited in France for more than ten years. Her work bears the influence of fauvism and, more recently, abstract art.

[ Information ]

Next exhibitions
- from January 23rd to February 7th
Salon Art et Matière
Salle des Fêtes, 91720 Maisse, near Paris
- from March 30th to April 20th
Shionoe Museum
Takamatsu-city, Shikoku island
Sayaka Nakagawa's website
When first confronted with Sayaka Nakagawa’s work, ‘fauvism’ immediately springs to mind. No surprise, given that this young Japanese artist freely admits her passion for the artistic movement that has had the most influence on her work. “I like paintings that come from the heart, that convey love at first sight, are full of colour and positives”, she explains.

© T.Joly
 Originally from Shikoku
“And my favourite painters include Mark Rothko, Hyeronymus Bosch, Robert Delaunay, Picasso, Soutine, Moreau, Vlaminck, Rouault, as well as Munch who is, of course, a little negative, but his work is very powerful”.
Originally from Kagawa, on Shikoku Island, where she was born in 1979, she has been surrounded by art from a young age. “My mother took me to exhibitions when I was still in the pram and I started to draw when I was very young”, she recalls. Quite naturally, she was drawn to artistic studies and learned sculpture, design and painting before specialising in the latter, her preferred discipline.
Then, in 1997, instead of enrolling in Japan’s greatest fine arts school, she chose to come to France. “It was on the advice of my parents, who felt the teaching in Japan was still too classical. At first, I was bit reluctant, but after an exploratory trip to France, I was convinced”. A choice she doesn’t regret.

© T.Joly
 Grand Prix of the Académie de Port Royal
“In Japan there are still many gallery owners and buyers who look at the artist’s CV first and his work second. Over here, there are more people with a good knowledge of art and who have a good eye. Besides, in France there are more opportunities to get in touch with artists from all over the world and major art exhibitions are more common”.
When she arrived in France in 1997, she settled first in Toulouse to give herself time to learn the language. Then, in 1999, she moved to Paris where, after visiting ten painting schools, she chose to continue her studies at the Académie de Port Royal, where she won the 2003 Grand Prix. Since then, she has worked on her own and exhibits on a regular basis. “Most of the time in France, but I also try to show my work in Japan every two years at three or four galleries”, she adds. Initially, her painting style was very much influenced by fauvism.

© Sayaka Nakagawa
 Various sources of inspiration
Now, it is evolving more towards abstract art. She is also painting landscapes more and more, whereas before, the bulk of her output was portraits. Circuses, agricultural landscapes, undergrowth, still life, monuments…the subjects that inspire her are very diverse. “Everything interests me and, when I travel, I always find more inspiration. The same thing happens when I take a walk in the Bois de Vincennes where I go very often because I like nature”.
When she travels or strolls in the woods, she always carries a notebook to sketch the scenes that inspire her. However, she rarely sets up her easel in open air. She creates all her work in her studio, an apartment in the 11th arrondissement that overlooks the roofs of Paris. Whatever she paints, watercolours or oil paintings, she always works in the same way: without music, on only one canvas at a time and with all her other work turned in to face the wall.

© Sayaka Nakagawa
 Exhibition in New York
“So I can be perfectly concentrated”. More than ten years after arriving in France, Sayaka Nakagawa feels very much at home. “I think it’s better for my career and I enjoy living here because there are lots of artists, exhibitions and opportunities to meet people specialized in a wide range of fields, like fine cuisine and wine”. Nonetheless, from time to time, she has thought about moving to the countryside. “As I said, I like nature and, in Paris, I feel the lack of sun, mainly in winter. On top of that, the crowds and stress of the people are sometimes hard to bear”. She also hasn’t ruled out moving to another country and one of her dreams is to exhibit in New York. But wherever she lives, she will keep on painting, that’s for sure. “Painting is my life”.

December 01, 2009
Thierry Joly