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g uta i Tsuyoshi Maekawa, Sadamasa Motonaga, Kazuo Shiraga Atsuko Tanaka, Chiyu Uemae, Jiro Yoshihara

de sarthe gallery


g utai Tsuyoshi Maekawa, Sadamasa Motonaga, Kazuo Shiraga Atsuko Tanaka, Chiyu Uemae, Jiro Yoshihara

de sarthe gallery


Arising out of a long century of war and conflict, the Gutai Art Association was a seminal group, which sought to challenge the entrenched framework of representative artistic traditions in Japan. The group was cofounded in 1954 by Jirō Yoshihara and Shozo Shimamoto in Ashiya City, a prefecture that was a key target of U.S. airstrikes, and representative of a Japan characterized by emptiness and collective psychological trauma. Under such auspices, the group sought to cultivate unprecedented relationships between materiality, artistic creativity, freedom and modernity. Spanning two generations, the group totaled 59 Japanese artists and sought to evocate the post-war realities of life. The group name “gutai” combines “gu” (technique, instrument) and “tai” (body), literally meaning “concreteness”, to embody the foundational purpose of the group. As declared in The Gutai Art Manifesto, “Gutai art does not change the material but brings it to life. It does not falsify the material. In Gutai art the human spirit and the material reach out their hands to each other”.


ARTWORKS


Atsuko Tanaka (B. 1932, OSAKA; D. 2005, NARA) Atsuko Tanaka studied yōga at Kyoto City University of Arts, but left in 19 51 to study modern art at the Osaka Municipal Institute of Art. There she met Kanayama Akira, whom she married in 1965. Tanaka participated in Zero-kai from its inception, and her work is concerned with the conceptual reinterpretation of painting. Early collages such as Calendar (1954), which challenged the nature and materials of painting, served as springboard for later works that incorporated everyday materials such as commercially dyed cloth, readymade bells, and light bulbs. Work (Bell) (1955), shown at the 1st Gutai Art Exhibition, was her first electric work. Seeking to embody movement in a practice that combined art and technology. Tanaka created one of the best-known works of Gutai in 1956, Electric Dress. From this piece, Tanaka developed a visual vocabulary of complex networks, lines and circles that defined a new mode of articulating, “abstract space in concrete terms”. Her masterful canvases such as Work (1956) are environmental in scale.


Atsuko Tanaka (1932 - 2005) Work 1963 Synthetic resin and enamel on canvas Signed and dated ‘Atsuko Tanaka 1963’ (on the reverse) 159 x 129 cm Provenance: Tokyo Gallery, Tokyo Private collection Exhibitions: Atsuko Tanaka Solo Exhibition, Gutai, Pinacotheca, Osaka, 1-10 February, 1963 Atsuko Tanaka Exhibtion, Minami Gallery, Tokyo, 1964 1st Nagaoka Contemporary Art Museum Award Exhibition, Nagaoka Contemporary Art Museum, Nagaoka, 1-27 December 1964 15TH Mistukoshi Art Exhibition, Tokyo, 1965 de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, Gutai, October 2 – October 31, 2015 Literature: Atsuko Tanaka: Search for an Unknown Aesthetic, 1954-2000 Catalog Raisonne, no. 101, p. 176 248 Issue (February 1st) of Bijutsu Techo P.29 de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, Gutai, exhibition catalog, 2015, reproduced full page, color


Atsuko Tanaka (1932 - 2005) 83-E 1983 Synthetic resin and enamel on canvas 194 x 129.9 cm Provenance: Tasatoshi Fujino; Art U Gallery, Osaka Exhibitions: de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, ‘Gutai,’ October 2 – November 1, 2015 Literature: Atsuko Tanaka: Search for an Unknown Aesthetic, 1954-2000 (catalog raisonne), no. 181, p. 187 A New Perspective Gutai through the eyes of Fujino, Tasatoshi, p. 136 (illustrated in color)


Atsuko Tanaka (1932 - 2005) 97A 1997 Synthetic resin and enamel on canvas 130.6 x 89.6 cm Provenance: Gallery Toselli, Milan Exhibitions: de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, ‘Gutai,’ October 2 – November 1, 2015 Literature: Atsuko Tanaka: Search for an Unknown Aesthetic, 1954-2000 (catalog raisonne), no. 285, p. 186


ChiyĹŤ Uemae (B. 19 20, KYĹŒTANGO) ChiyĹŤ Uemae initially studied nanga (Chinese-style literati painting) before transitioning to Western art. Uemae won first prize at the annual exhibition of the Nika-kai, an artist organization formed by the former members of Nika-kai in 1947, and has his first solo show at a public library in Manazuru in 1951. His painting style is characterized by repetitive gestures and an interest in ordinary materials such as matches, paint tubes, and sawdust. Between 1956 and 1964, he created works encrusted with the detritus of everyday life, bringing beauty to humble materials. The canvases themselves are often patched together from scraps, evincing post-war frugality and a lack of fetishism for the traditional materials of painting. In later years, Uemae transferred his practice to textile art. His intricately embroidered abstract works have since become well known in the textile world. Uemae has published two autobiographies of his Gutai years, both of which recorded detailed history of the group.


Chiyū Uemae (b. 1920) Untitled 1963 Oil on canvas 117 x 91 cm Exhibitions: Art Platform, Gutai Chiyu Uemae: Special Exhibition, Los Angeles, December 2013 de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, ‘Gutai,’ October 2 – October 31, 2015 Literature: Gutai Chiyu Uemae: Special Exhibition, Art Platform, Los Angeles, reproduced full page color p.22.


Jirō YOSHIHARA (B. 1905, OSAKA; D. 1972, ASHIYA) Jirō Yoshihara was born in Osaka in 19 05 to a wealthy family who owned Yoshihara Oil Mill, a leading edibleoil business. Coming of age before the war, Yoshihara was drawn to modern art and discourse, reading avidly about Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, and geometric abstraction. In 1928, he studied commerce at Kwansei Gakuin Commercial College to prepare himself for a role in the family business but instead became absorbed in painting. He was mostly self-taught, with yōga artist Kamiyama Jirō eventually serving as a mentor. In 1937, he submitted a number of surrealistic paintings to the annual exhibition of Nika-kai, the largest artists’ organization of yōga of the time, of which he became a full member in 1941. He helped establish an avant-garde subgroup of Nika-kai, called Kyūshitsu-kai, in 1939. Yoshihara became one of the most influential figures in postwar Japanese art, contributing to the emerging public and private art associations of the Kansai region, including the Ashiya City Art Association in 19 48 and Genbi in 1953. He was also an influential art critic, contributing regularly to such journals as Kirin and Boubi, as weel as to national newspapers, and was the driving force behind and editor of the Gutai journal. In 1954, Yoshihara founded the Gutai Art Association with sixteen initial members. Surviving until his death in 1972, the group eventually totaled fifty-nine members who spanned two generations of artists. As the leader of Gutai, Yoshihara conceived, organized, and largely funded its legendary events and is famous for his mandate to create original and innovative art: “Do what has never been done before!” He also led Gutai’s essential commitment to internationalism, forgoing relationships and networks with avant-garde artists, critics, and curators on five continents. He produced experimental and interactive sculptures for the Outdoor Gutai Art Exhibitions of 1955 and 1956, including works using electric light. In painting, Yoshihara experimented with various modernist styles before maturing as a gestural abstract painter in the early 1950s. In the early 1960s, he developed a series of works titled Circle, comprising large circles painted on a monochrome background. Although the resembled unicursal drawings (made without lifting the brush), Yoshihara’s seemingly calligraphic circles were carefully crafted in oil paint, creating a rich theoretical statement regarding the relationship between calligraphy and oil painting.


Jirō Yoshihara (1905 - 1972) Untitled c. 1960 - 1970 Oil and pencil on paper 38 x 53 cm Provenance: Private collection, Japan (acquired from the artist) Exhibitions: On loan to the Ashiya City Museum of Art & History, Ashiya ; the Museum of Osaka University, Osaka, Japan de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, ‘Gutai,’ October 2 – 31, 2015


Jirō Yoshihara (1905 - 1972) Untitled c. 1960s Ink on paper 44 x 35.5 cm Provenance: Private collection, Japan (acquired from the artist) Exhibitions: On loan to the Ashiya City Museum of Art & History, Ashiya ; the Museum of Osaka University, Osaka, Japan de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, ‘Gutai,’ October 2 – 31, 2015


Jirō Yoshihara (1905 - 1972) Untitled c. 1960 - 1970 Oil and pencil on paper 44.5 x 36.5 cm Provenance: Private collection, Japan (acquired from the artist) Exhibitions: On loan to the Ashiya City Museum of Art & History, Ashiya ; the Museum of Osaka University, Osaka, Japan de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, ‘Gutai,’ October 2 – 31, 2015


Jirō Yoshihara (1905 - 1972) Untitled c. 1960 - 1970 Acrylic on paper 36 x 45 cm Provenance: Private collection, Japan (acquired from the artist) Exhibitions: On loan to the Ashiya City Museum of Art & History, Ashiya; the Museum of Osaka University, Osaka, Japan de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, ‘Gutai,’ October 2 – 31, 2015


Kazuo SHIRAGA (B. 19 24, AMAGASAKI; D. 2008 AMAGASAKI) One of Gutai’s best-known members, Shiraga Kazuo studied nihonga in the Department of Japanese Painting, Kyoto City University of Arts, from 1942 to 1948. He also studied yōga at the Osaka Municipal Institute of Art before taking up oil painting. In 1952, he established Zero-kai with Murakami Saburō and Kanayama Akira, both of whom he had known since childhood. Shiraga is best known for his direct use of the body in painting. Attempting to create the most unmediated expression possible, he first used his fingers and hands to spread oil paint directly onto paper. Then, considering his hands too “learned”, he turned to painting with his feet. In the renowned performance Challenging Mud (19 55), he pushed pure bodily expression to the furthest point in his oeuvre by diving into and wrestling with mud made of plaster, gravel, and cement. Shiraga’s performances can be understood as an extension of painting to “performance painting”. Ultramodern Sanbasō (1957), an undulating dance that he performed wearing a bright red costume with elongated sleeves, hat, and mask, was, for example, to be understood as a red line in motion. Shiraga was a frequent contributor to Gutai journal, articulating the ethical role of the avant-garde artist. In 1971, he became a monk of the Tendai sect, receiving the name Sodō (Simple way). As he embraced the principle of tariki hongan, meaning “fulfilling the vow by relying on other’s power”, his foot painting become more lyrical, placing the power of his work in the kamisama, or gods.


Kazuo Shiraga (1924 - 2008) Dattan, Shunie No Gyo 1973 Oil on canvas 130 x 162 cm Provenance: Tokyo Gallery, Tokyo Private collection, Acquired from Tokyo gallery in the 1970’s Christie’s, Art D’apres Guerre et Contemporain, 28 May 2008, Paris Private collection, Asia Exhibitions: de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, ‘Gutai,’ October 2 – October 31, 2015


Kazuo Shiraga (1924 - 2008) Dattan 1988 Oil on canvas 112 x 162 cm Provenance: Seisho Gallery, Tokyo Private collection, London Exhibitions: de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, ‘Gutai,’ October 2 – October 31, 2015


Kazuo Shiraga (1924 - 2008) Rose Festival 1998 Acrylic on paper 55 x 75 cm Provenance: Tokyo Gallery, Tokyo Private collection, Tokyo, Japan Exhibitions: de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, ‘Gutai,’ October 2 – October 31, 2015


Sadamasa MOTONAGA (B. 19 22, IGA; D. 2011, TAKARAZUKA) Early in his career, Motonaga Sadamasa worked with natural materials such as rocks and water. Work (Water) (1956) was an installation of vinyl tubes suspended in the air that shimmered in jewel-toned colors. Inspired by tarashikomi, a traditional technique of nihonga, he started creating his best-known works around 1957 by pouring and commingling different colored paints without blending them, thereby allowing the colors to create random forms on the canvas. A grant allowed Motonaga to live in New York from 1966 to 1967. While there, he adopted a technique using acrylic paint and an airbrush, a method he would continue to employ extensively in his later, hard-edge paintings of bright, cartoonlike forms and in the large body of children’s books he illustrated.


Sadamasa Motonaga (1922 - 2011) Sen Green 1971 Oil on canvas 130 x 162 cm


Tsuyoshi MAEK AWA (B. 1936, OSAKA) Maekawa was born in Osaka in 1936 and developed an early interest in modern art after being shown photos of work by Picasso and Miro in elementary school. In 1957, Maekawa met Gutai members Shozo Shimamoto, Yasuo Sumi, and Chiyū Uemae at various exhibitions, only to later meet Gutai’s founder Jirō Yoshihara at the 8th Gutai Art Exhibition in 1959. After becoming a member of the Gutai group in 1962. Maekawa’s work evolved into its mature phase of intricately cut, folded, twisted, and rolled layers of burlap slathered in colorful oil painting. Maekawa had his first solo exhibition at the Gutai Art Association’s Pinacotheca in Osaka in 19 63, upon which Japanese critic Yashikazu Nakamura wrote that the paintings “fully displayed the optimistic and experimental spirit that is peculiar to Gutai.” After the Gutai group’s dissolution, Maekawa established the Maekawa Art and Design Laboratory, a painting school for children. In the late 1970s, Maekawa also made frequent trips to Shinto shrines with former Gutai members Kazuo Shiraga, Yutaka Matsuda, and Yasuo Sumi, contribution to the rhythmic, lyrical quality of his paintings.


Tsuyoshi Maekawa (b. 1936) Untitled 1975 Acrylic, sewn burlap 70.5 x 33 cm Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist Private collection, Asia Exhibitions: de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, ‘Gutai,’ October 2 – October 31, 2015


Tsuyoshi Maekawa (b. 1936) Untitled 1975 Acrylic, sewn burlap 92 x 46 cm Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist Private collection, Asia Exhibitions: de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, ‘Gutai,’ October 2 – October 31, 2015


Tsuyoshi Maekawa (b. 1936) Untitled 1975 Acrylic, sewn burlap 160 x 125 cm Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist Private collection, Asia Exhibitions: de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, ‘Gutai,’ October 2 – October 31, 2015 Year 1975, The 10th Japan Art Festival (traveling exhibition), Museum of New Zealand and elsewhere


Tsuyoshi Maekawa (b. 1936) Untitled 1975 Acrylic, sewn burlap 161.5 x 128 cm Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist Private collection, Asia Exhibitions: de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, ‘Gutai,’ October 2 – October 31, 2015


CHRONOLOGY


1954 Gutai Group is formed by Jirō Yoshihara along with Shōzō Shimamoto 1955 1st publication of Gutai Shiraga Kazuo and Tanaka Atsuko join Gutai group 1st Gutai Exhibition in Tokyo Shiraga performs Challenging Mud 1956 Yoshihara publishes the Gutai Manifesto 1957 Art Informel painter Georges Mathieu, and Sam Francis visit Japan 1958 International Art of a New Era: Informel and Gutai, organized by Tapié and Yoshihara, opens in Osaka and tours four Japanese cities 1st overseas exhibition of Gutai opens at the Martha Jackson Gallery, New York 1960 Gutai group organises the Internation Sky Festival, releasing thirty works on kites by artists from America, Europe and Japan into the sky Yoshihara and Motonaga, participate in Four Japanese Artists, Martha Jackson Gallery, New York 1962 The Gutai Pinacotheca opens in Osaka 1963 Shiraga and Motonaga participates in Exposition d’art Moderne, Grand Palais, Paris 1964 Works by Yoshihara Jirō and Tanaka Atsuko are exhibited at Guggenheim International Award, New York The New Japanese Painting and Sculpture, opens at the San Francisco Museum of Art. It later travels to Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1967. Works by Shiraga, Tanaka, Motonaga and Yoshihara are exhibited


1966 Motonaga stays in NY until 1967. He masters the skill of using acrylic paint and air brush 1971 Shiraga Kazuo begins intensive study of Tendai Buddism 1972 Yoshihara JirĹ? passes away at the age of 67, Gutai group dissolves


Published on the occasion of de Sarthe Gallery exhibition:

g utai Tsuyosh i Maekawa, Sadamasa Motonaga, K az uo Sh i raga Atsu ko Ta na ka, Ch iy u Uemae, Ji ro Yosh i ha ra

October 2 - October 31, 2015

香港中環雪廠街16 號西洋會所大廈 8樓 8/F Club Lusitano, 16 Ice House Street, Central Hong Kong T. 852 21678896 | F. 852 21678893 | E. hongkong@desarthe.com

北京市朝陽區草場地藝術區328-d 328-d, Caochangdi, Chaoyang District, 100015 Beijing, China T. +86 010-84182441 | E. beijing@desarthe.com

www.desarthe.com Catalog: © 2015 de Sarthe Gallery © Tsuyoshi Maekawa, Sadamasa Motonaga, Kazuo Shiraga, Atsuko Tanaka, Chiyu Uemae, Jiro Yoshihara Design: Willis Lam, de Sarthe Gallery


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Gutai  

de Sarthe Gallery presents gutai, a survey from the post World War II, avant-garde movement of Japan. The exhibition includes first and seco...

Gutai  

de Sarthe Gallery presents gutai, a survey from the post World War II, avant-garde movement of Japan. The exhibition includes first and seco...

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