Friday, September 16, 2011

Kenji & Dana - An Upcoming Conversation

Over the years I have had the dual pleasure of working with artists Kenji Nakayama and Dana Woulfe and becoming friends with them. They are rare in their talent as painters who work as easily alone as they do with each other.

Despite their growing reputations and deep involvement in the art community, however, it is difficult to use the internet to piece together who they are and what they are striving for. For that reason, I sat down with Kenji and Dana earlier this month, turned on a tape recorder and talked with them about everything from Kenji’s arrival in the US to Dana’s recent involvement in an enormous mural project in Toronto.

Currently featured in our exhibition Space/Light/City, the two men’s solo paintings illustrate why their work has been referred to as a melding of order and chaos. Stillness and motion would have been a more apt phrase, for while much of Kenji’s work, particularly his stenciled paintings, have solid form, Dana’s nonrepresentational “splash” style exudes kinetic energy. The interesting question is not just how the two aesthetics work when combined into a single painting, but also how two such different artists work together successfully – seamlessly, as they put it.

These are among the topics that will be addressed in depth when I post a transcription of my interview with Kenji and Dana to this blog next week. Please stay tuned. The two have a lot to say about themselves and the directions in which they see their peers and other young, contemporary artists going.

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