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The Yuko Nii Retrospective
Part Two: Stone Paintings, Drawings and Writings
Curated by Terrance Lindall

A Celebration to Conclude
The 20th Anniversary Year of
The WAH Center
A Special Exhibition Honoring Our Founder

Last November, we presented The Yuko Nii Retrospective, Part 1: Dune in celebration of the WAH Center’s 20th Anniversary, showing her monumental, nearly mural size, cycle of Dunes, expressing her breadth of artistic style and ability. In the Dune Series, Nii maintains a certain precision and a strong sense of volume using a pointillist style that she calls “dotism.” On October 21st, we will conclude our 20th Anniversary celebrations with The Yuko Nii Retrospective, Part 2: Stone, Drawings and Writings, as we present her earlier artworks, which she began in 1966 while attending Pratt Institute Graduate School. Nii completed her Stone Series in 1976, but the philosophy imbedded in her art was was always present, as seen in her writings which come from different points in her career.

Before her magnificent monumental Dune paintings, Nii was best known for her large-scale stone paintings. These works served as a precursor to the development of her Dune paintings.

In addition, we will present figurative works by the artist, from her time at Pratt Institute’s Graduate School. These drawings are part of Nii’s first formal, academic drawing training during a course with live nude models in 1966.

These studies show evidence of her keen observation of human figures and her ability to draw quick sketches on newsprint paper. It is interesting to see the contrast between figures in her drawings and the large canvas landscapes of her stone paintings, as both are equally volumetric and plastic. She is able to balance stark contrasts between black and white compositions in drawings as deftly as she is able to create entirely volumetric surfaces in her stone paintings. Nii tempers different intensities and rhythms, embodying them in the finished process. Thus, one can find solemn and serene works with religious connotations in the paintings, next to very fleshy, human figures in her drawings. When seen in their totality, they register a broad thematic spectrum: epic (in her lyrical dunes), and in her figurative work, satirical, compassionate, with a humanistic inspiration and a strong impact. Accustomed to working on a grand scale in her paintings, she carries a humanistic sensibility into her smaller black and white works.

Truth in her drawings is incarnated as human form; the energetic and expressionistic handling in these works testifies to a rational and practical assessment of its subject matter. Nothing is graphically or plastically hidden.

Ever since moving to New York City in 1966, Nii was able to see exhibits of significant creative movements: both American and German Abstract Expressionisms, Pop Art, Hard Edge, Kinetic, Field Paintings Flux, Social Realism, Regionalism, the Harlem Renaissance, Cubism, Dada, Fauvism, Impressionism, etc., During a period when she could have imitated a host of styles, she was able to successfully negotiate diverse European and American influences to construct a wholly artistic and uniquely Japanese identity for herself. Well-read and intellectual, she not only learned from her peers about theater, literature and philosophy, she absorbed avant-garde art by visiting galleries in in New York and traveling the entire USA and abroad to Russia, Europe, Latin America, and Asia.

Nii’s art evades specific classification owing to a unique subject matter and symbolism. The modern viewer may find certain sympathy with the universalizing goals and themes of mankind as it is seen reflected in a spiritually universality of peace and harmony in Nii’s work. Nii’s public character can be labeled as reflective, composed, and apolitical, and her inner creative force produced an art that can be seen as a yearning for a harmonious beauty that all people find appealing.



from October 21, 2017 to December 10, 2017

Opening Reception on 2017-10-21 from 16:00 to 18:00


Yuko Nii

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