Nature is a sublime engineer. She is both mathematician and inventor. So, too, is Rakuko Naito. For the past three decades, Naito has used her artistic practice to explore the malleability and strength of kozo washi, a traditional Japanese paper. This exhibition features a body of serene assemblages, composed of manipulated, layered, and curled strips of paper that build into dynamic sculptural works.
Naito’s career has spanned many methods and materials, all with the same clear dedication to organization and inventiveness. Beginning as an optical art painter in the early 60s after moving to New York from Tokyo, she explored acrylics, spray paint, and masking tape, eventually focusing her style on the delicate, monochromatic paper assemblages that she works in today. With a natural affinity for order and structure, Naito joins a circle of artists such as Mel Bochner, Eve Hesse and Sol LeWitt. Naito’s repetition of actions, decisions and manipulated forms combined with her avoidance of narrative is the basis for her refined works. Naito has said, “I feel natural forms and textures have a reality that can not be competed by trying to paint or drawn by hand. I try to experiment and manipulate materials to create my own world.” As a result of her methodology, Naito has found a unique class for her ideas somewhere between our notion of “drawing“ and “sculpture.“
Born in Tokyo, Japan, Naito studied at the Tokyo National University of Art. After her graduation, in 1958, she moved to New York, where she has lived and worked ever since. Rakuko is represented across the United States in numerous galleries and public collections including the Kemper Art Collection (Chicago), Miami-Dade Community College (Miami), The Larry Aldrich Museum (Ridgefield, CT), the Roland Gibson Art Foundation (SUNY Potsdam) and the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College, Massachusetts. She was an artist in residence at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation in 2003.