Filles de Kilimanjaro III (Miles Davis)
200.6 cm x 200 cm (79 in. x 78 3/4 in.)
(Buenos Aires, 1927 - 2001, Dallas, Texas)
Latin America, Argentinean
Medium and Support:
Acrylic on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 1977
Kazuya Sakai’s internationalism (he was born in Argentina of Japanese parents and lived in Argentina, Japan, Mexico, and the United States) has ironically obscured his contribution to Latin American art. Few art histories mention him, perhaps because he is too difficult to categorize. Not only did Sakai move all over the world, but his activities included painting, teaching, translating, and lecturing on everything from Zen Buddhism to experimental music. Sakai’s painting started with an informal, expressive abstraction, somewhat influenced by Japanese calligraphy. By 1965, when he moved to Mexico, he had adopted the more “hard-edge” abstraction visible in Filles de Kilimanjaro III. In Mexico City he was the graphic designer for Plural magazine, where he worked alongside the poet Octavio Paz and an influential group of intellectuals. Then in 1977 Sakai moved to Texas, teaching at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of North Texas at Dallas. Filles de Kilimanjaro reflects Sakai’s passionate interest in jazz (the title pays homage to a Miles Davis album of the same name). Although the deliberate composition and structure are far from the improvisation of jazz, the overall “funkiness” of the painting recalls the popular culture of the 1970s.