BIOGRAPHY

 

1951, Three brothers and two sisters. Yoshio is on the left in the front row.

 1940
1940, Artist Yoshio Nakajima was born on 5th December in the village of Kawamoto, Saitama prefecture, some 100 kilometres from Tokyo, where his family have been farmers for well over three hundred years. He has two sisters and three brothers. The family farm is situated between Buddhist temple and Shinto shrine, which is of great symbolical value. Encouraged by his parents he began, only three years old, to take an interest in calligraphy and the beauty and magic of characters. At this time he had a near-accident in a stream near his home. His parents saw this as a sign that he was to devote his life to religion and become a monk. Yoshio was bent on something quite different, however. One day Yoshio discovered a book with pictures of Vincent van Goghos paintings. This made a great impression on him and, using the simple means at his disposal, he took up painting. After the war poverty was more widespread than ever and the family farm housed many of the destitute relatives. At the age of six Yoshio went to school. He was a very shy boy who hardly dared open his mouth. After school he would withdraw to his own little room where he could devote his time to his pictures in peace and quiet. Using clay instead of oil colours he tried to imitate the impasto of oil. His parents failed to take his artistic ambitions seriously, however, and regarded him as a future monk. If he chose not to, he would have to help support his family, which would mean five years of agricultural work in Brazil.
 1954
1954, At the age of fourteen Yoshio Nakajima ran away from home, making his way to Tokyo. He had made up his mind to become an artist. At first he had to get along by taking odd jobs, often heavy and unhealthy. After six months of hardship Yoshio finally got a regular job at a small metal works so that he could afford to attend night school. At this time Yoshio had his first one-man exhibition and got to know Dada Kahn, poet and Dadaist. They became lifelong friends.
 1957
1957, Nakajima holds an exhibition in Tokyo and takes part in the Yomiuri Andepandan-ten exhibition at the Ueno Museum in Tokyo. He also takes up street painting, i.e. straight on to street surfaces in public places. He makes contact with the Fluxus Movement a artists like Georges Mathieu, John Cage, Yoko Ono, Robert Rauschenberg as well as Gutai, the avant-garde group, all of whom were to have a major influence on him.
1958
1958, Nakajima runs across the artist Daniel Golden who invites him to study at the Rotterdam Academy of Art (but this was to happen only in 1964). Lacking serious political ambition, Yoshio Nakajima, together with poets, painters, actors and musicians, takes part in the founding of the Naturalized Group and the Tokyo Unbeat Group. The form of expression is action painting, street theatre, body painting and self object. This new youth movement attracts Japanese media, and a happening becomes a household word for all sorts of street theatre.
1959
1959, In the streets of Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, Yoshio stages a happening called “Moving Object Jet 59”.
1960
1960, Yoshio Nakajima takes part in the forming of Zokei Bijitsu Formative Art Studio, the first collective workshop in Tokyo for artists. One of the sponsors is Tokyo Electric Company, one of the biggest Japanese companies. Tokyo had by now become one of the most important art scenes. Artists from all over the world, including John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Nam June Paik and others, were invited by the prestigious Meiji Gakuin University. The Japanese students became engaged in their happenings and performances, and Yoshio Nakajima was inspired by these artists.
 1964
1964, Yoshio Nakajima now decides to accept the invitation to study in Europe and sets out hitch-hiking across the entire Asian continent, selling sketches and singing traditional Japanese songs for his daily bread. After seven months he reaches his destination, Rotterdam, where he intends to study at the Academy of Art. Working with Panamarenko, Nakajima gets acquainted with several of the leading artists in Europe: Asger Jorn, Joseph Beuys, Wolf Vostell, Robert Jasper Grootveld, Jean-Jacques Lebel, John Cage, Allan Kaprow, Robert Rauschenberg, Tajiri, Kudo and Simon Vinkenoog. Invited to Hundertwasseros studio, Yoshio Nakajima meets Lucio Fontana in Venice and assists Robert Rauschenberg in a happening during the Venice Biennial. At Galleri 04 outside Rotterdam Nakajima holds his first one-man exhibition in Europe, but a year later he is expelled from Holland on account of a anon-permitted happening. 1965 Nakajima moves to Antwerp where he has been accepted as a student for five years at the Royal Academy. He lives for several months in the old home of the poet Paul van Ostaijen. Together with Panamarenko and Hugo Heyrman he founds the avant-garde art magazine Happening News, but a few months later he is once again expelled, this time from Belgium, following a anon-permitted happening. Hitch-hiking across West Germany he now makes his way to Copenhagen where he finds temporary work as a screen printer. While planning to move on to Los Angeles, he starts working with Arthur Kspcke.
 1966
1966, At the end of January, Yoshio and his wife Fumiko come to Sweden to visit artist friends. Fumiko falls ill and their son Anders is born in Sweden. A trip to the USA is cancelled. Sometime later, Yshio is accepted into the Valand Art Academy as the first foreign student. At the same time, he moves into a studio in Landala, Gsteborg. During his six years at Valand, Yoshio organises a Skratta Society and Overground Movement. As organiser of Fluxus Scandinavia, Yoshio can now invite artists from all over the world to take part in different conferences, seminars and projects in Scandinavia. As part of Valands 100-year jubilee, Yoshio is invited to organise a happening at the Gothenburg Art Museum. Yoshio embarks on a study tour throughout Europe, with Istanbul as his goal.
1967
1967, At the Copenhagen jazz club Montmartre, John Tchicai, Roland Kirk and Yoshio Nakajima jointly perform a happening. In connection with Sweden’s national shift from left- to right-hand traffic, Nakajima creates his monotype Traffic in Sweden.
1968
1968, Supported by the students at Valand, Yoshio turns his studio into the Landala Modern Art Gallery. A number of exhibitions and performances take place here: Traffic in Sweden, Mandala Show, Nirvana Fluxus Scandinavia and Bauhaus Situationiste with Jsrgen Nash, Jens Jörgen Thorsen and Hardy Strid, and others. The activities continue for over a year before Håkan Wettre takes over. Later that year, Yoshio takes part in a graphics triennial in Liljevalchs Art Gallery in Stockholm.
1969
1969, Nakajima moves to Frölunda konstnärsateljé (Yoshio Experimental Laboratory). Chalmers University of Technology and Gothenburg School of Economics supported his experimental art.
1970
1970, Yoshio staged happenings at summer festivals such as Pop-festivalen at Gärdet, Stockholm, and at Folkfesten in Uppsala and also at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Yoshio begins collaborating with Folke Edwards at Hagahuset in Gotheburg. He organises exhibitions and happenings. One of his guests is the Japanese Fluxus artist, Kosugi. Collaboration with Folke Edwards continues until 1973. In the autumn he held an exhibition at Eskilstuna Art Museum.
1971
1971, He is invited to hold exhibitions at a Art Information 71, the international art fair in Kiel, at  Kunstzone, Munich and at the Gsttingen Art Fair. He also performed a happening at an international street theatre gathering in Braunschweig.
 1972
1972, An exhibition and a happening at Alingsås Art Gallery. He is invited to Documenta 5 in Kassel to stage PSI Mandala, a joint performance with Yutaka Matuzawa. Nichido Gallery, in Shibuya Tokyu bunka kaikan, holds a retrospective exhibition presenting 380 of Nakajimaos works. Sato Gallery in Tokyo, exhibits his Ecology in Tokyo a 1000 bottles signifying mankindos devastation of the earthos natural wealth.
1973
1973, Nakajima moves with his family to Ubbeboda in Sweden where he discovers diabase, the black granite, and begins to sculpture in stone.
1974
1974, The International Ubbeboda Symposium starts off with The One Hundred Days Symposium which continues until 1976. Hundreds of artists participate in such projects as Stone-symposiet, Film-symposiet and aInternationella friskolan. Documenta 6 in Kassel invites the International Ubbeboda Symposium to a congress. Nakajima creates Freedom bird, a large diabase sculpture, a monument to the cultural policy-makeros victimization of the free artists of the Ubbeboda Symposium. In 1978 Jörgen Nash and Sven Malvin publish the book The Murder of Ubbeboda Centre in Edition Bauhaus Situationiste Drakabygget, It contains a harsh criticism of Swedish aStalinist culture policy. Yoshio Nakajima, in his capacity as organizer of the Ubbeboda Symposium, is appointed aprofessor by Jörgen Nash.
1975
1975, Yoshio Nakajima receives his first invitation to exhibit at Kunststation Kloster in Cornberg, West Germany. The exhibition later moved to the New Reform Centre in Aalst, Belgium; Kunstmankt Newmankt der Kunstlen in Cologne, West Germany; Agora Studio Maastricht, Holland; then to Poland and Japan.
1977
1977, After a few years in Japan, the Nakajima family returns to Sweden. Yoshio is invited to a three-month stay at Drakabygget where he has Asger Jornos old studio at his disposal. Here he creates his big multimedia exhibition Home to Sweden. In September the Nakajima family moves to the old school at Humlarp outside åstorp. Together with Jörgen Nash, Lis Zwick, Drakabygget and Lars Hård, Yoshio organizes Skånska konstakademin. Among its many activities are film festivals, the free school of painters, film and art seminars, Inter Media Performance and Saturday activities for children. Since the local politicians were negative to the project, the KSrreberga activities eventually had to be discontinued. However, Skånska konstakademien has survived, but with a different structure. Yoshio participates at Documenta 6 in Kassel with Ubbeboda Congress.
1980
1980, Yoshio Nakajima receives the City of Ängelholm Cultural Award.
1982
1982, He takes part in a group exhibition with Drakabygget at Charlottenborg Castle in Copenhagen. He starts working in a new studio in Ageo in Saitama prefecture, Japan.
1983
1983, Nakajima is invited to exhibit at Fodor Museum in Amsterdam and Seoul International Drawing Exhibition in South Korea.
1984
1984, A Freedom Bird, the big diabase sculpture from the Ubbeboda Symposium, is finally placed outside Malmö City Museum. Yoshio is invited to the 1st Seoul International Drawing Biennial.
 1985
1985, He initiates co-operation with Kaibundo Gallery in Kobe and is invited to Kunsan International Show in South Korea.
1986
1986, A Lyrikexpressen a Den rullande dikten is opened by Yoshio Nakajima with a harakiri happening at Copenhagen central station. Nakajima is invited to participate in aJapon des Avantgardes 1910-1970 at Pompidou Centre in Paris. Galleri G in Helsingborg holds its first exhibition presenting Nakajima’s works, the beginning of a fruitful working relationship.
1987
1987, Yoshio is invited to action painting and to hold an exhibition at the Cultural Centre of Stockholm. He moves from the Humlarp school to a new house in Ramlösa.
1988
1988 He creates a mural painting (4 x 15 metres) outside Kaibundo Gallery in Kobe, Japan.
1989
1989, In connection with the Situationist exhibition at Pompidou Centre, Yoshio Nakajima receives the Drakabygget Great Asger Jorn Award. Later that year he participates with a one-man exhibition at the Gothenburg International Art Fair.
1990
1990, Nakajima is commissioned to illustrate, every month for a period of five years, the cover of the teacherso magazine Gekan kokugo kyoiku, and holds a one-man exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Saitama prefecture, Japan. At Peter Arnessonos graphic art studio and Ateljå Larsen in Helsingborg he takes up etching again.
1991
1991, At Gullaskruf glassworks in the Swedish province of Småland, Yoshio begins to develop his work in glass. He enters his work at the Cremer collection exhibition at Museum Ostwall in Dortmund, Germany.
1992
1992, Medical Art University honours Yoshio Nakajima with the first museum named after him in Saitama, Japan, his home prefecture. To the museum collections he personally presents some fifty paintings and ten glass sculptures made at Gullaskrufs glassworks. Munkeruphus in Denmark shows Yoshio’s works in connection with the exhibition Drakabygget 1960-1992, which is opened with action painting. Co-operation is initiated with Odense Art Gallery. Yoshio participates with a one-man exhibition at Sundsvall International Art Fair.
1993
1993, Nakajima is invited to a Nordic drawing triennial that travels to all the Nordic countries, and holds a one-man exhibition at Stockholm International Art Fair. Yoshio moves his Japanese studio from Ageo to Akashi, outside Kobe in Japan.
1994
1994, Yoshio holds an exhibition at Gl. Holtegård in Denmark, and initiates co-operation with Galleri Syd, Nyköbing F, where he is commissioned for a mural painting. Later this year Yoshio participates with an exhibition at Yokohama International Art Fair, NIKAF.
1995
1995, He contributes to Art Aid Kobe, the artistso own organization, with an art project in support of the victims of the earthquake disaster. The project includes art in public environments, monumental painting and sculpture. The municipality of århus, Denmark, invites Yoshio to a one-man exhibition in connection with its Asian Festival in October. Assisted by Danish and Asian artists Yoshio performs a happening, lasting for seven days, called athe Chinese wall. At Cologne International Art Fair, Kaibundo Gallery presents aLiving Art, a one-man exhibition of Nakajimaos work. He takes part in a Japanese exhibition at VSxjs Konsthall. Yoshio participates in Yokohama International Art Fair, NIKAF. At the opening Yoshio gives a performance in memory of the end of the Second World War. Later the same year he moves his studio from Akashi outside Kobe to the city of Yokohama.
1996
1996, In Copenhagen, appointed Cultural Capital of the European Union, Yoshio holds an exhibition at Galerie Birch, celebrating its 50th anniversary. The Sudo Museum Project invites Yoshio to make a mural painting, together with pupils, in the 102-year-old nursery school in Akasaka, Japan. Yoshio Nakajima Permanent House is founded by Yoshio Nakajima Fan Club in Yokohama.
1997
1997, Yoshio receives the City of Helsingborg Cultural Award. Kaibundo Gallery holds a second exhibition of his art, a one-man exhibition at Cologne International Art Fair. One of his paintings is placed in the Hieizan temple in Kyoto a one of the greatest events in his life. 1997 For one month he exhibits posters in all trains and railway stations in Japan at the invitation of Japan Railways and, simultaneously, has an exhibition in a railway art hall. Yoshio holds an exhibition in Oulo, Finland, where he has one of his paintings placed at the art museum. He also has a big ema-painting placed in the Zama temple in Yokohama and participates in Tokyo International Art Fair, NIKAF.
1998
1998, Towards the end of August a major exhibition of Yoshio’s works opens at VSxjs Art Hall and at Galleri Sigma. At the opening there is a happening called Yoshio encounter with Noh, including a poem by Jörgen Nash and an action painting by Yoshio (6 x 5 metres in black ink). At Kumagaya-city Summer Festival, Saitama prefecture, Nakajima is welcomed with a firework display anticipating next yearos exhibition. In September exhibitions open at Wild Gallery and the Japanese Cultural Centre. At the end of October Nakajima makes a 9 x 5 metre painting together with 150 children in Syouganji Kumagaya pre-school. In November, celebrating its 10th anniversary, Galleri 25 in Gsteborg invites Yoshio Nakajima to hold a one-man exhibition, and afterwards the Gsteborgs Konstmuseum buys his work.
1999
1999, After almost 45 years Yoshio Nakajima returns to his native Kumagaya for a grand exhibition. A joint project with the Yagihashi department store, the exhibition is opened by the town mayor and this is followed by dance, music and a performance. Different events take place during the duration of the exhibition. In April, during the Frankfurt Art Fair, Wild Gallery in Frankfurt invites Nakajima to a group exhibition with aWater as its theme. Nakajima stages a performance in the exhibition hall on the theme aBlack and Red. Under the organization of Yoshio Nakajima, Ubbeboda Centre celebrating its 25th anniversary on the 10th of July, invites artists from all over the world who have been associated with the Centre to take part in an exhibition. Yoshio Nakajima begins collaborating with Galerie 96, leading to a one-man exhibition at Galerie 96 in both Luxembourg and Berlin. Visiting his home town in November Yoshio Nakajima receives the City of Kawamoto Cultural Award.
 2000
2000, Nakajima is appointed for the next 10-year period to ornament the University of Human Arts and Sciences in Hasuda, Saitama prefecture. He had already begun his work in the autumn of 1999 in his studio in Japan. Together with the municipality of Kawamoto he makes a monetary donation for the annual Yoshio Nakajima Art Prize. Kawamoto is planning to build, within four years, a museum named after him. On 5th December Yoshio Nakajima celebrates his 60th birthday. By then he will have been living in Europe for 35 years.