Kazuya Sakai 

(Argentina, b. 1927 – United States, d. 2001)

 

Born in Buenos Aires to Japanese parents, Kazuya Sakai spent the majority of his youth in Japan, studying literature and philosophy. Upon his return to Argentina in 1951, Sakai, a self-taught painter, dedicated himself to the visual arts, becoming a promoter of Japanese culture in his new surroundings. He later spent considerable periods of time in the United States and Mexico, where he acquired new influences and further developed his painting style. Throughout his life, Sakai continued to build his connection with Japanese culture, serving as a professor of Asian philosophy and translating works of Japanese literature and Zen Buddhist writing into Spanish. 

 

Sakai saw in his artwork—as in himself—a unification of Eastern and Western elements. His first works were geometric in style, reflecting the pivotal influence of Argentina’s Concrete Art Movement. With time, Sakai began to incorporate elements of Zen philosophy and Japanese calligraphic line into his art. Works of this period show techniques of abstract expressionism and informalism, as well as a marked diversity of materials and an energetic approach to the canvas, both hallmarks of the Japanese Gutai Group.  In 1961, Sakai showed his work at the Organization of American States in the exhibition Japanese Artists of the Americas

 

Sakai's later work revisited geometry, this time by assimilating controlled curved lines and circles inspired by experimental music and jazz. This musical geometry uses formal elements of the Japanese Rinpa School, such as bright colors, simplicity of form, and compositional asymmetry, the vivid use of which reflects Sakai’s close study of the work of Ogata Kōrin, a noted Rinpa artist. 

Japanese Artists of the Americas. OAS exhibition pamphlet, 1961
Japanese Artists of the Americas. OAS exhibition pamphlet, 1961

Archives of the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas

Japanese Artists of the Americas. OAS exhibition pamphlet, 1961
Japanese Artists of the Americas. OAS exhibition pamphlet, 1961

Archives of the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas

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