In 2009, Na Kamura met the

Berlin art dealer André Schlechtriem. There followed four exhibitions at his gallery, including one where the artist was not named, a group show she curated on the theme of landscape painting accompanied by the publication of a newspaper, and the solo show “Geometrie in LD.” (Geometry in Portrayals of Landscape) in which she unscientifically but illuminatingly revealed parallels of motif and construction between works by Hokusai, Hiroshige and Friedrich.

In 2014 she showed a group

of works at Oldenburger Kunstverein for which she took the horizontal-diagonal geometry from Giorgione’s nude “Sleeping Venus” and turned it into a kind of anamorphosis. The show’s title – “»o lala, von was für glänzenden liebhabereien ich träumte«” (Oh My! What splendid loves I dreamt!) – is taken from a certain Dr. von Wense, who made a “lovely, clumsy” translation of Arthur Rimbaud’s poem “Ma Bohême” into his native German.* “Quotation is another way of taming the mighty river of time in painting,” wrote Reinhard Rakow in his review: “She’s interested in all that humans have created. From a sober viewpoint, this includes landscape, a construct she views and assesses with the analytic (not romantic) eye of the artist, who sees landscape painting as something that takes place in stratified layers. The border between these layers, the horizontal line, is thus constitutive, even if it is curved or skewed.”


* Quoted on the flyleaf of the German version of Enid Starkie’s Rimbaud biography.

Maki Na Kamura, Back of the invitation: „o lala, von was für glänzenden liebhabereien ich träumte“

Back of the invitation: „o lala, von was für glänzenden liebhabereien ich träumte“

In 2015, in her exhibition Horizonte,

arco iris y horizonte at Bilbao Arte, Na Kamura claimed that in a single landscape painting (viewed as a series of layers) a horizon, a rainbow and a second horizon are not impossible – a claim that sounds slightly exotic and that could date from another time. For Hokusai, for example, a Japanese painter-illustrator who was in great demand in the first half of the 19th century, a horizontal dividing line supposedly separating the earth from the sky was invisible. (Although seeing it in a landscape is something we take for granted, it depends on the viewer having a visual understanding schooled on photography.) Consequently, Hokusai had to invent the horizon for himself in his landscapes. Na Kamura, an artist with a good knowledge of photographic seeing, comments concisely: “The horizon has only existed since it was portrayed as such by painters.”

Maki Na Kamura, Back of the invitation: Horizonte, arco iris y horizonte Foto: Jens Ziehe

Back of the invitation: Horizonte, arco iris y horizonte
Photo: Jens Ziehe

In 2015, she travelled to the Art Basel fair

and showed a selection of reworked versions of her landscape paintings at Galerie Knoell. Gallerist Carlo Knoell and Na Kamura decided to call their first joint project GASTAUFTRITT (Guest Appearance). The invitation cards named only the starting date: 15 June 2015 ~. As well as large-format landscapes, she also showed two dozen framed works on paper, each showing a shoe seen from the side. Shoes made not to be worn, but to be collected – another kind of public interior monologue: Are these artworks? And are they now part of the art market? In compositional terms, Na Kamura’s shoes recall the beautiful women’s shoes drawn by Andy Warhol during his time as a commercial illustrator. But hers are not illustrative. They are painterly. If they were still lifes, however, they would lack the suggestion of a surface on which the shoes could stand, on which they could exist The horizon is blurred, as in her latest landscape paintings that bear titles like “. SS 1”, “. SS 2” etc., an abbreviation for shan shui (mountain water), the traditional Chinese art of landscape painting. Rocks float. Figures float. Shoes float. … Or is this just what a viewer with a firm belief in a single horizon wishes to see?

Paul Maria Ludwig, September 2015