Joji Nakamura Solo Exhibition “CANDY”

Joji Nakamura Solo Exhibition “CANDY”

2024.01.26(Fri) – 2024.02.05(Mon)

YUGEN Gallery will be holding Joji Nakamura's solo exhibition "CANDY" from January 26th (Friday) to February 5th (Monday), 2024.

Illusion of time and space


Joji Nakamura is a painter who uses his fingers to apply paint instead of using a paintbrush to create figurative portraits and still lifes. European galleries such as MikikoFabiani (France) and Kaplanprojects (Spain) all handle the work, and the work is exhibited globally in Paris, the Netherlands, and Taiwan. This exhibition "CANDY" will display approximately 20 paintings.

Born in 1974, Nakamura was influenced by punk music, and became interested in flyers "rather than owning an instrument" at the live music venues he frequented during his adolescence, and began creating collage works by imitating what he saw. Later, while studying abroad in the United States, he was inspired by people of his generation who were creating freely, and decided to become an artist.

In the late 1990s, he was inspired by the DIY spirit of street art similar to punk artists such as Barry McGee, and began his activities in earnest in 2000 after returning to Japan. In order to create a street art movement that he encountered in America in Japan, he approached magazine editorial departments and art-related people. However, looking back at that time, there was something incompatible.

“In the 1990s, in the United States, Jeffrey Deitch was exhibiting street art, which had previously been considered mere graffiti, at a large art museum, while Japanese art people had no idea what street art trends were. They didn't really care. Even when we met and talked, we couldn't get the conversation going at all, and I was like, 'What's this time difference? 'I was shocked."


Portrait drawn with fingers without using a brush


He didn't have any formal art education, and he doesn't know how far he can go as a painter, even though he is not just a casual street artist. Initially, he was also working on collage works, but he became frustrated with the idea that "the purpose was to collect interesting photos," so he focused on painting. What he was faced with was what could be called the autonomy of painting.

However, he says that he was troubled by not being able to use the brush properly and being unable to draw exactly as he imagined. At that time, he was struck by the avant-garde art group Gutai Art Association, especially the foot paintings of Kazuo Shiraga, and came up with his current style of painting with his fingers.

Nakamura cites Picasso and Modigliani as his favorite painters, and says that he feels an independent presence in the works of these artists. A work of art is not an imitation of something in the outside world, but an existence that takes the form of itself, like a human being or a natural object. Nakamura's colorful color schemes and forms drawn with direct strokes from his fingertips have a sense of sensuality and vitality, perhaps because they are a strong reflection of this awareness.

When Nakamura began his career while searching for his own style, he was characterized by voluminous monochrome abstract expressions using only black and white paint, but the number of colors he used has increased and the colors have become richer, and in recent years Nakamura says "If I run out of this, I won't be able to paint anymore," and his work is characterized by a deep, subtle style based on the paint Naples Yellow Green.


Painting as a pure visual experience


The title of this exhibition is taken from the album of the same name by jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan, which I was listening to during the production. "I listen to it on days when I have to decide on the title of the exhibition, and I like something that everyone can read and understand at a glance,"but says that there is no particular meaning behind it.

"I believe that the mere presence of a painting will create communication from the moment it is hung on the wall, and I do not attach any meaning to the work."

"Western paintings have a slightly dull and heavy feel to them. I wonder what kind of paintings the people who created such works would create if they lived in a modern world with so many types of paints. I would like to paint modern versions of historical portraits and portraits, imagining that Picasso might have used fluorescent colors."

Nakamura still remembers when someone who saw his work at an art fair in France once approached him and said, "I was moved because it reminded me of my childhood." Although they were born in different countries and don't know what memories are, he says he was really happy.

His portraits, which are not based on real subjects and are started without a preliminary sketch, appeal to the viewer's imagination and evoke and suggest various images. Nakamura's works make us intuit that the essence of painting lies in pure visuality, and that it is an illusion of time and space that liberates humans from the control of reason. 


Exhibition highlights

*Some of the exhibited works may be subject to change. please note that.

About sales of works

At the same time as the exhibition is held, the works will be available for viewing and purchase on the YUGEN Gallery official online store.

Information on visitor benefits

Only those who fill out the survey form when visiting will receive an original art book free of charge.

This is an original art book exclusive to this exhibition, containing the exhibited works and exhibition statement in one volume.

Joji Nakamura Photo Exhibition “CANDY” Art Book
Recorded artist: Joji Nakamura
B4 variant/List price 1,650 yen (tax included)
*Please note that the design of the art book may be partially changed.  

Original sticker present! About visitor registration


Customers who register using the form below will receive an original sticker from this solo exhibition when they visit.

When you visit YUGEN Gallery, please show the staff the automatic reply email sent to your registered email address.

Once we have confirmed your registered name, you will receive a sticker.


Joji Nakamura


Joji Nakamura/ Painter. Born in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture in 1974. He is active in a wide range of fields, including collaborating with artist Ken Kagami, managing the book label "K.M.L.BOOK," performing as a member of the writer group "SSS," and producing Zines. His collection of works includes "JojiNakamura:BLACKDISCOVERY" (Partizan25).


2024.1.26 (Fri) - 2024.2.5 (Mon)


YUGEN Gallery


Totate International Building 3F, 2-12-19 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Opening hours

*On the final day, it closes at 17:00

Closed on


Artist in Attendance 

Friday, February 2nd

Admission fee



*Please note that depending on the situation, the exhibition period and opening hours may change without notice.