spacer SABINA LEE GALLERY spacer

name spacer



Previous - Current - Upcoming




la times

Review: Culture Monster
By Sharon Mizota



Review: The Lookout
By Catherine Wagley


Matsumi “Mike” Kanemitsu: KANEMITSU!
(Ogden, Utah, 1922 -- Los Angeles, CA, 1992)

October 29th Through December 18th, 2010
Opening Reception - October 29th - 6 to 9 pm


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

KANEMITSU! runs from October 29th through December 18, 2010. 
There will be an opening reception Friday, October 29 from 6 to 9 pm.  

Additionally, we will extend our hours on Saturday, November 6 from 11 - 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 . 971 Chung King Road . Los Angeles, CA 90012 . Phone (213) 620-9404 . Hours Wed-Sat 11-6