Toshio Yoshida

Toshio Yoshida (1928-1997) was born in Kobe, Japan. As early as 1953 his works attracted attention, notably that of Jiro Yoshihara who would found the Gutai Art Association in 1954. Encouraged by Yoshihara to boldly explore creativity at the intersection of painting and performance, Yoshida was one of the great original thinkers and innovators of Gutai alongside Kazuo Shiraga, Sadamasa Motonaga, Atsuko Tanaka, Shozo Shimamoto, and Saburo Murakami.

The 1950s were particularly productive years for Yoshida. Not only did he create Red (1954), which includes a tied length of rope, Yoshida also created a series of Burn Paintings by searing and scarring plywood panels with a soldering iron or red hot coals. An example includes Sakuhin (54-28) (1954). 1955 saw the introduction of the Brushstroke paintings, which feature a single stroke of thickly applied oil paint on panel or canvas such as Sakuhin (56-12) (1956). At the 1956 Second Gutai Art Exhibition, Yoshida poured India ink from a watering can onto a canvas from a distance of ten feet. This action would later be repeated in several works from the 1960s. Ever moving from one experiment to another, Yoshida’s Shadow installation at the 1957 Gutai Art on the Stage consisted of objects placed on stage with electric lights illuminating the objects to cast shadows onto the curtain behind them.

Shortly later, he created works built up with several layers of paint, resulting in a thickly crusted and heavily textured surface as can be seen in Sakuhin (61-10) (1961). Exploring not only substantial materiality, Yoshida also investigated the ephemeral in the form of soap foam. From his 1965 paintings, where foam literally is piled onto works, to his installation Foam A (1965), where foam is continually pumped out to create ever changing shapes, Yoshida extensively investigates action, simultaneity, and time. Revisiting the technique of the watering can, works in the 1960s like Sakuhin (1966) heavily feature droplets of paint radiating concentrically from the center. Between the 1970s and the 1980s, he continued his interest in foam, from kinetic works such as Foam Pattern 2125, 1972, which consists of moveable circular elements within an acrylic box, to brightly colored works such as Zoshoku no Pattern No. 61 (1981). Bringing back the element of the rope, Yoshida reintroduced the medium in works dated to the 1980s, as can be seen in Rope-Loop 163, WAFT-233 (1983). These reoccurring themes and mediums in his oeuvre bring to mind circularity, continuity, and the realization that Yoshida had a profound understanding of his practice in linear time.

Yoshida’s innovation before, during, and after Gutai is remarkable in its originality. Though his creations are lesser known today than other Gutai members’ works and his international peers, there is no dispute of the artist’s important and growing place in the pantheon of the post-war avant-garde. Yoshida has been included in several Gutai retrospective exhibitions, including Gutai at the Jeu de Paume, Paris, in 1991; GUTAI: The Spirit of an Era at the National Art Center, Tokyo, in 2012; and Gutai: Splendid Playground at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 2013. Yoshida died in 1997.

Image: Toshio Yoshida in studio, unidentified location, 1969
Photograph: Shunk-Kender © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2014.R.20)

Selected Artworks

October 13, 2017

FIAC 2017: Top galleries in “Avenue Winston Churchill, On Site”

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FIAC 2017, the International Art Fair exhibiting the best Contemporary Art galleries of the world, awaits its grand opening on October 19 in Paris. This year FIAC will have two sub-sections, Avenue Winston Churchill and Petit Palais, showcasing outdoor works featuring seminal works by the most prominent galleries all over the world. These two sub-sections fall in FIAC’s new sub division of “On Site” that was introduced last year. Read More
September 5, 2017

Marcia Hafif: Upcoming Museum Shows in Switzerland

Opening at Kunsthaus Baselland: Thursday 14th September, 6:30 PM

The MARCIA HAFIF exhibition is created in collaboration with the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (MARCIA HAFIF: September 16-January 14, 2018) and the Kunsthaus Baselland in Muttenz (MARCIA HAFIF: September 15–November 12, 2017).
Hafif (b.1929, USA, living in New York and Laguna Beach) is among the pioneers of the 1970s who fundamentally broadened con­ceptions of the practice of painting and under­standing of art per se. Since the 1980s, terms like ‘radical’ have been used to describe Hafif’s work with monochrome painting. The pencil on paper drawings, vertical pencil marks cover­ ing a surface, begun in 1972, led to the ver­tical stroke in paint. Her work in both mediums still continues, fitting within what she calls The Inventory. Each series included in The Inventory develops a single medium using tra­ditional methods and materials for making paint and preparing a ground. Individual works in a series can be larger or smaller, and usually are made with vertical brush­strokes, with which the effects of unmixed colours on a suit­able painting ground are sounded out. Works from the series that may be her most radical will be exhibited at the Kunsthaus Baselland: the Black Paintings (1979/80) in which she found black by layering ultramarine blue and burnt umber. There will also be photographs and films on display.
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