Matsumi Kanemitsu show at Sabina Lee Gallery, Los Angeles

KANEMITSU! runs from October 29th through December 18, 2010.  The Academy Award-nominated documentary film “Four Stones For Kanemitsu” is shown. The gallery will extend its hours on Saturday, November 6 from 11 to 9 PM in conjunction with neighboring events taking place in Chinatown.

For further inquiries please contact Dane Johnson at or at (213) 620-9404.


Sabina Lee Gallery

Matsumi Kanemitsu


October 29 – December 18, 2010

Opening Reception, Friday, October 29, 2010, 6-9 PM

971 Chung King Road

Los Angeles, CA 90012

While LACMA’s “Kanemitsu in California during the 1960s and 1970s” (2008) showed the allure of Matsumi Kanemitsu’s mastery for sensual lines, which stealthily portrayed an ominous tone of American society back then, from a selection in the museum’s permanent collection, the gallery show at Sabina Lee Gallery presents a variety of never-before-shown nudes of this Japanese American painter persona. Still fondly recalled as Mike, nicknamed by his friend Jackson Pollock, Kanemitsu’s works are records of a man’s determination and journey that took him to the 442nd Infantry, to studio visits with Picasso in Paris, to interact among the painters of the New York School as well as with Mark Rothko and Paul Jenkins, and to collaborate with June Wayne, who founded the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles in 1960 to proliferate the fine art of lithography in the United States. Living in fascinating but turbulent times, Kanemitsu’s life began and ended in the twentieth-century American West but was molded under militaristic pre-war Japan. His decision to return to the United States at the dawn of World War II lead to enduring racism and hardship, but he chose to pay a price for his freedom and passion. His nude drawings as well as his comical and autobiographical Mickey Mouse lithographs portray a universal American tale of survival and dream. It is no secret that pornography has paid the bills of numbers of once-struggling but successful figures in the arts. Kanemitsu’s works show no shame in sometimes explicit images, but even more, illustrate it beautifully, comically, sensually and perhaps even sentimentally. Sabina Lee Gallery in Chinatown, not far from his studio in the artists district in downtown Los Angeles, seems an appropriate space to share some of Kamemitsu’s more private works. For the collectors of and novices to Kanemitsu’s works, this show will be an introduction to another side of this prolific painter and aspires to be an inspiration to future generations of emerging artists, whom Kanemitsu wished to encourage to pursue their love and to live life without regrets.

Ayako Yoshida

Independent curator

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