Previous Exhibitions

February 2017 - Naga Tsutsumi - Perspective / Possession

For the month of February 2017, ZIMMERMAN is exhibiting new paintings by Naga Tsutsumi. 

This month's exhibition comprises two distinct series, both begun by the artist last year.

The works in the first series, Perspective, explore the artist’s reflections on the sensory rituals of a pre-digital world. "Do I miss awe and excitement of placing the needle on the turntable, pushing the play button on the cassette player, opening the book and turning pages?”

The works in the second series, Possession, are the product of the artist seeking to set aside adult rationality, to paint intuitively and unselfconsciously, “as children do.” 

Naga Tsutsumi: Artist’s Statement 


“It was not long ago that music and books became available as digital data. 

I use iPod and Kindle every day, because they are accessible and convenient. 

But these digital devices don’t have the same excitement as turning the very first page of a printed book, or placing a needle on a record.  

Books, music, photographs … as digitalisation progresses, part of the sensory experience of each book, song and photo is lost. The weight of a book, the smell and texture of its papers, the typeset letters with their specifically selected fonts. The record disc inserted in a paper jacket with its own cover artwork design, the smell of the vinyl, the sound of a needle touching down. Pushing down the play/rec buttons on a cassette player, using the shutter button on a manual camera, dialling an old phone, or tuning into a radio station by turning the knob ... all physical actions that engage our senses to create an “experience". 

Reading books and listening to music used to be such precious moments for me. So I feel relieved to see people still reading printed books, or listening to music with analogue players. 

I like that painting is still a physical activity, one that has not been replaced by a 0/1 (binary) format or automated system. 

Painting is an accumulation of human mistakes toward perfection, showing a history of thinking and decision making, frustrations and joys, all at the same time.” 


“This series is simply about painting what I want to paint. 

It is inspired by my daughter's drawing, and my ongoing suspicion about art making.  

Children, before receiving art education at school, are pure picture makers without theories and knowledge. 

Children draw whatever they like. Lines and colours are so bold and decisive. We can't retrieve this natural creativity after losing it (just like boys' soprano). 

I try to interact with my daughter as much as possible when she draws. 

When we collaborate, I observe how she draws and chooses colours, from which I can learn a lot. 

Nobody compels me to paint, so I am supposed to be free to paint however I wish. 

But what I was told by art school professors has become not just a useful foundation, but is also a spell, which keeps me from being a truly free painter. 

To cast off this spell, in this series of paintings I have reintroduced candy colours and free spontaneous strokes on the canvas, something I haven’t done for 25 years. 

I used to believe the statements of modern masters that "art is a weapon" and "art is not a decoration on the wall".  

But I have to conclude, as far as I paint, my paintings are not a weapon - and I am grateful if one of my works is hung in someone's living room, after all.” 

Brief artist’s bio  

Born in Japan in 1967, Naga Tsutsumi has lived in Palmerston North for more than a decade. 

From a samurai line, the artist is the last descendant of the main branch of the Tsutsumi family. 

“But I don’t have any inheritance or family treasures like swords, armour or written manuals about swordsmanship; my only legacy from the glory era is a family tree book, made about a hundred years ago, and my name.” 

Tsutsumi holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa, USA. 

This month marks the artist’s fourth solo exhibition at ZIMMERMAN.