Painting Paradise: The Art of Daisuke Nakano

Portland Japanese Garden 12 June - 18 July 2021 
Portland Japanese Garden

Daisuke Nakano is an avant-garde visual artist who uses the centuries-old Nihonga-style painting technique to capture the elusiveness of light and vivacious spirit of wildlife through his screen paintings of imaginary botanical landscapes. Nihonga (日本画), a traditional style of Japanese painting, is created using solely organic materials — such as pigments from vegetables, minerals, animals, silk, wood, and gold.



In his first-ever West Coast exhibition, Nakano infuses traditional techniques with a unique use of color found in Western Naturalism styles to create a whimsical interplay of wildlife and lush, paradisiacal landscapes. 

The overwhelming composition, the exhaustive lines, the faithful details and the living colors, standing in front of Nakano’s works, I find my heart stirred by their dazzling beauty, my chest becomes filled with joy and my body grows warm…The clusters of flowers on the wisteria become entangled in the peacock’s feathers as they blow in the wind, mysterious yet sacred perfume making us forget reality in the moment.” 

(Exhibition statement “If there is a Heaven” by Shoko Aono, Director, Ippodo Gallery, New York) 

Learning quickly from the world of Nihonga and often using gold or silver leaf as a base – a method developed by Ito Jakuchu (1716 – 1800) or the Rinpa School – Nakano quickly started creating his own method of painting, capturing light through his use of organic materials and elaborate details to bring two-dimensional imagery to life. Through depicting the power and ephemeral cycle of nature, Nakano expresses the paradox of life. 

Using the large traditional byobu, or folding-screen format for a number of key pieces in the exhibition, Nakano explores the limitless orchestration of colors as well as forms, and invites viewers to an immersive journey. His surreal paradise set against the backdrop of Portland Japanese Garden creates a unique, Pacific Northwest experience not seen anywhere else in the world.   

 For a behind-the-scenes look at Nakano’s artistic process, and a studio tour, see here.