S. Masao Nakazawa
Incarceration Screen Study (Gold Style)
acrylic on canvas
16” x 22”
My work relies upon history in order to produce art that critiques implicit cultural biases and underlying social hierarchies. While this approach to artmaking often entails a flexible and multidisciplinary sensibility, including drawing, sculpture, video, and installation, my practice is ultimately propelled by the curious historical circumstances surrounding the ever-expanding field of painting. The newest project concerns the forced relocation and incarceration to which thousands of American families, including my own, were subjected on the basis of their race by the US government during the course of the Second World War. Consisting of a series of Japonisme folding screens that combine canvas staining techniques employed by mid-century color field painters with trompe l’oeil renderings of barbed wire fencing, this work probes the abstract yet painfully real processes by which racialized bodies are confined and cultural identities are spatialized and regulated. Additional threads of research driving my work include: a comparison between the large, abstract canvases of high modernist painting and similarly spiritual depictions of celestial space painted during the Renaissance; the bodily significance of classically rendered drapery; and the historical development of secular still life painting as a means of decorating and coding emergent middle class domestic interiors and ideology.