Makiko Nakamura was born in Japan in 1951. She was brought up by her Grandparents and started to paint at a very early age. Her Grandfather and her Uncle, who had been killed in the war, were both artists and the house was filled with their painting materials which she was taught to use. During her childhood she learned the techniques of calligraphy and traditional Japanese painting and, as an only child, she described painting becoming her best friend and consumming her daily life.
In 1966 she went to art school in Kyoto to study printmaking, sculpture, film-making and painting. In 1995, following the death of her parents she moved to Paris to continue her studies in painting and printmaking before moving to Philadelphia to study at the Graduate School of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania.
In 1999 she made the decision to move to Dublin where she lived and worked until 2013, taking Irish citizenship in 2011. During this time she developed the process which has directed her painting ever since. Nakamura begins with simple, repetitive geometric shapes or grids which gradually dissappear as she builds up each layer of paint; when complete, she then reverses the process, slowly sanding away the paint surface to try and find the starting grid, on the way creating a new surface made up of scratches and traces of colour from every layer of the work. Nakamura talks of this process being a way to see through time, revisiting memories hidden in the work and from their simple, minimalist beginning each painting takes on a more organic and expressive character.
The fourteen years Nakamura spent in Ireland were immensely important in her development as a painter and when she returned to Japan she left behind one of her most important paintings with the Irish Museum of Modern Art and two major commissions for the Gate Theatre. Three years after her return to Kyoto and living in her studio, Nakamura continues to follow the same, highly disciplined routine, painting all day, every day. Having not lived in Japan for over twenty years she knows no-one in Kyoto and has few distractions – the central importance of painting in her life that she first discovered as a child has now become a daily devotion. Nakamura’s paintings develop slowly, demanding all her time and all her attention.