GUTAI is considered one of the most important avant-garde art movements of the latter half of the 20th century and occupies an established place in postwar art history. GUTAI was formed in 1954 by Jiro Yoshihara and a group of artists who had assembled around him.
Jiro Yoshihara is considered the artist who created the richest body of painting in Japanese art of the 20th century and is well-known for the 'circle' paintings of his later years. In 2005 the Gutai Art Association honored him with a Centenary Retrospective to mark his 100th anniversary birthday at:
The Osaka City Museum of Modern Art (October 29 - November 27, 2005)
Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art (December 15, 2005 - February 26, 2006)
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (June 13 - July 30, 2006)
The Miyagi Museum of Art (August 6 - October 9, 2006)
The Centenary Retrospective covers:
Early Works: Landscapes Beside and Outside the Window: 1923-1932
Metaphysical Images and Pure Abstraction:1930-1940
Wartime Paintings: Two Landscapes: 1940-1945
Birds and People, and Linear Abstractions:1946-1954
The Birth of GUTAI: Toward Art Informel: 1954-1962
"Circles" and Afterward: 1963-1972"To understand the circles and see how Yoshihara's work developed in subsequent years, one must remember the artist's links with Japanese calligraphy." Shinichiro Osaki/1992
Excerpt from the Retrospective Catalogue("The Gutai Art Manifesto")...
"What was Yoshihara trying to indicate with the circles? The circle, a fundamental sign that is both global and abstract, should be seen as a new image in painting which, along with the Western style of action-painting, gives the viewer a sense of physical movement, and is related to the traces and expressions that are found in the brushwork of eastern calligraphy. Also, as suggested in "The Gutai Art Manifesto," Yoshihara maintained a philosophical and practical stance of aggressively linking the diametrically opposed elements of material and the human spirit. On the one hand, owing to his abstract nature, the circle is an image that genuinely approaches the spirit. On the other, by viewing paint as a material, the circle facilitates a contradictory state in which the traces of physicality and individuality compete with each other, and the circle adds a spiritual depth that Westerners might consider "Zenlike." "ZERO" projects translate the enso, or circle, from ZEN painting into a minimalist object signifying "ZERO".
"We are following the path that will lead to an international common ground where the arts of the East and the West influence each other and this is the natural course of the history of art" Jori Yoshihara
ABOUT GUTAI: literally means "concreteness"In 1954, with a group of young artists, Jiro Yoshihara formed the GUTAI Art Association. For the next 18 years, until Yoshihana's death in 1972 the group remained active internationally, publishing the official magazine GUTAI, organizing 21 Gutai art Exhibitions, and opening its own headquarters and museum, the Gutai Pinacotheca.
As a leader, Yoshihana repeatedly advised the group members, "Don't copy anyone! Do something no one's ever done before!" And as he said, beginning with the first group exhibition ("The Experimental Outdoor Exhibition of Modern Art to Challenge the Midsummer Burning Sun"), the Gutai Art Exhibitions, and the "Gutai Art Using the Stage" events, the artists presented numerous innovative works without precedent...Artist Kazuo Shiraga's battle with mud outside and Saburo Murakami's break through sheets of paper stretched across wooden frames, which gave rise to performance-type art that made use of a space and violent physical actions. These forms of expression also introduced materials such as mud, logs and vinyl, to create vivid works...The concept of linking material with creativity was the underlying principle of Gutai: participatory environments taking the form of organic or geometric abstract sculptures incorporating kinetic light, and sound art, turning exhibition spaces into chaotic machine-like organisms; environments drawing from contemporary architecture, technology, and urban design to promote futuristic, space-age aesthetic.