Masao Nakahara (b. 1956) is a Japanese artist and sculptor who lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany. Born in Saitama, he attended the Nihon Art School in Tokyo before emigrating to Germany in 1981 to attend the Braunschweig University of Fine Arts and later graduated from the Düsseldorf Art Academy. After participating in several exhibitions in the early 1990s, he went on a long hiatus from art by working as a translator and looking after his family. He returned to art after encouragement by his children in 2016.
The works of Nakahara are figurative, enriched in fantasy and based on childhood memories. They explore the complexity of human nature and reflects on the meaning of existence through sceneries that hold deep meaning for both artist and the viewer. Through his dynamic vivid colours and strong brushstrokes, his figures enhance the wide pictorial spaces they occupy.
He intertwines cultural elements of Japan and Germany into his works, influenced by a variety of creative figures and movements from surrealism and neo expressionism to a stylistic reminiscence of Ernst Ludwig Kircher, Willem de Kooning and Edvard Munch. His cartoonlike human figures follow a style like his fellow contemporary and friend Yoshitomo Nara.
His works have been the focus of solo exhibitions ‘Daydreams and Memories’ at Althuis Hofland Fine Arts (Amsterdam, 2022), ‘Departure and Arrival’ and ‘Fear and Hope’ at ES 365 (Düsseldorf, 2021). He has also participated in duo and group exhibitions such as ‘Swing By’ at Verein Düsseldorfer Künstler (Düsseldorf, 2023), ‘Protectors of Love and Peace’ at YKG Gallery (Tokyo, 2022), ‘Under the Boat’ at Sala del Camino (Venice, 2022), ‘Youth’ at YKG Gallery (Tokyo, 2021), ‘tomodachi ito’ at Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (Düsseldorf, 2021), ‘5 Japanische Künstler aus Düsseldorf’ at Kunstraum Neuss (1993), ‘Zeitgenössische Kunst aus Japan’ at Gallery Sels (Neuss, Germany, 1991), ‘KIKKOO’ at Bahnhof Eller (Düsseldorf, 1990) and ‘De Reizende Zon’ at Kunstal Almelo (Netherlands, 1990).