At the same time it is incredibly difficult and incredibly easy to understand Yoshio Nakajima’s art. It’s difficult – because he never gives interviews, and despite 50 years of living in Europe, he speaks only Japanese and a little broken English. A couple of years ago, though, I got into a conversation with his son as an interpreter.
The first time I met him was in 1977 at Jørgen Nash’s farm Drakabygget in southern Sweden. Everywhere there were Yosh-io Nakajima’s “objects” in the form of old-fashioned soda bottles with a patent stopper, which he had stuffed with objects and put strange labels on. He also used small pieces of the chicken net for collage. My brother and I each bought a graphic magazine from him. Two color gradations where each, like a collage, was pasted a small human figure cut out of glossy paper from a weekly magazine. Color blending is a demanding technique – they get slightly colored – but this was elegant. He has said that he learned the technique during four years of study at Valand’s art school in Gothenburg.
It was in 1987 that he started painting pictures. He has been told he was inspired by CoBrA but wanted to enter his own world. Usually you paint on flax canvas, but he had no money, and in the family’s home in Sweden it was flooded with sheets – which are of cotton. He started painting on them. As he says, “30 years have passed with Ikea’s sheets”. During the conversation, Nakajima and I stood in front of a painting with a large red circle and a lot of figures drawn with a snug black line. Suddenly he turned around and exclaimed, pointing to the picture: “It’s all the people who are in Ikea on Saturday morning”.
In 1952 – when he was 12 years old – he saw a Japanese catalog from an exhibition with Vincent van Gogh. Van Gogh often painted the sun – and in Nakajima’s pictures there is always a large circle in one of the main colors red, yellow or blue. They express his poetic and ecological thoughts about the sun, heat and earth. Actually, his art is not that complicated – but very direct and quite elementary.
Lars Morel!

YOSHIO NAKAJIMA, born in Fukaya Saitama 1940, Japan

STUDIES 1958-1971
Musashino Art Academy, Tokyo, Japan
Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo, Japan
Art Academy Rotterdam, Holland
Antwerpen Royal Academy, Belgien
Valand Art Academy (1966-1971) Sverige

Tokyo UNBEAT 1957-1964

Internal Happening News, Antwerpen, 1965-1969
Flux Scandinavia, 1964-1975
Ubbeboda Center, 1973-1977
Skanska Konstakademien 1966-2004
Bauhaus Situationist, 1966-2004
Raus Stenkarlsfabrik, Yoshio Nakajina Art Center, 2003
Raus, Yoshio Nakajima Art Museum, 2011 

Aktion Center, Wien, 1971
Nichido, Tokyo, 1972
Satou Gallery, Tokyo, 1972
Oakland Museum, USA, 1973
Demarco Gallery, England, 1976
Aalborg Kunstmuseum, 1981
Gallery Klaus Lea, Tyskland, 1982
Sapporo Art Plaza, 1983
Sanshindo Art Gallery, Japan, 1983
Galleri Mariva, Stockholm, 1987
Galleri Atrium, Stockholm, 1987
lwataya Art Hall, Japan, 1977-2000
lsetan Art Hall, Tokyo, 1981-2000
Kaibundo Galleri, Kobe, Japan, 1984-2000
The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, Japan, 1989
Gallery International 57, New York, 1990
Kunstgalleriet, Odense, 1992, 1997, 2000, 2001
Marue Art Hall, Japan, 1990-2010
Mitukoshi Art Hall, Tokyo, 1992-2000
Galleri Birch, Kobenhavn, 1995, 1996, 2007, 2010
Gallery 96, Berlin, 2000
Galleri C, Arhus, 2001
Galerie Nielsen, Kolding, 2006, Nordstrand, 2009
Horsens Kunstgalleri, 2006, 2008
Galleri Provence Aalborg, 2007, 2009
Galleri Flintholm, Vester Skerninge, Fyn, 2007, 2010
Galleri Syd, Nykobing-Falster, 2006, 2009
Marue Arthall, Nagoja, 1982-2010
Shimada Galleri, Kobe, 2000-2010
Gallery Concept 21, Tokyo, 2004-2020
Galleri DGV, Svendborg, 2010-2021
Engelska Magasinet Konsthall, Rejmyre, 2012
Bruseum/Neue Galerie Graz, joanneumsviertel, Austria.2017
Affordable Art Fair Stockholm, Milano, London, Bryssel 2011 – 2019
Tokyo human health sciences university and hospital ,Hanoi 2018-2020