Born in 1932 in Nagoya, Japan, Tadaaki Kuwayama graduated from the Japanese Painting course at Tokyo University of the Arts where he found himself uninterested in both the rigid traditional nihonga apprentice system as well as the contemporary Japanese art scene in Japan of the time. He moved to New York in 1958, along with his young wife, the painter Rakuko Naito, where they have been living and working ever since. After his 1961 solo exhibition at Green Gallery, the prominent vanguard gallery run by eccentric art dealer Richard Bellamy, Kuwayama began making monochromatic acrylic paintings in geometric forms, becoming a pioneer of what became known as the American Minimalist movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The artist turned his back on the abstract, and gesture based painting style of the era, beginning to pursue another style of “pure abstract” painting alongside other young artists of his generation. Donald Judd, then an art critic, was an early advocate of Kuwayama and followed his career noting his contribution to the emerging form of what would later be termed Minimalism.
Born in Tokyo, Japan, Rakuko 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. Naito’s first solo exhibition was at the World House Gallery in New York in 1965. Featured throughout the United States, Europe and Japan, Naito’s work is represented in numerous galleries and public collections including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco), the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Texas), the Voorlinden Museum (Wassenaar, the Netherlands), 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. Naito held a solo exhibition at the Karuizawa New Art Museum (Karuizawa, Japan) in 2016 and was included in a group exhibition at Blum & Poe (Tokyo) in 2017.