As a painter, Kazuya Sakai has gone through many transformations influenced by the various places he’s called home. During time spent in 1970s Mexico City, Sakai’s paintings were colorful, vibrating abstractions inspired by contemporary and avant-garde musicians. In paintings like Filles de Kilimanjaro III—an homage to Miles Davis—you can almost make out the music notes, instruments, and tempos legends like Davis, Krin Gabbard, or John Cage would play, and an admiring Sakai would then paint.
At the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Buenos Aires, a new exhibition titled “Painting from the Spirit of Music” captures this singular period in the Argentinian-Japanese artist’s career, where tributes to the era’s greatest are incarnate as waves and bands of color. “As in Jazz, where the musician improvises on the basis of a rhythmic structure,” the show’s curator, Rodrigo Alonso, says, “however minimal it may be—the asymmetry of the circles on the solid and constant plane of the background suggest the controlled spontaneity, at once free and restricted, of that musical genre.” In this case the genre is Jazz, and Sakai’s s saturated, rhythmic abstractions might be best seen with a soundtrack of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew (painted by Sakai, pictured).