Sunday, February 24, 2013

Japanese Postwar Art – Gutai

After the end of World War II, Japan saw a rise in young artists who called themselves the Gutai Art Association. In the fall of 2012, Hauser & Wirth mounted an exhibit of work called “A Visual Essay on Gutai at 32 East 69th Street” featuring artworks by twelve members of the Gutai. From the web exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, the exhibit “traces efforts by these artists to resolve the inherent contradictions between traditions of painting – the making of images on a flat, framed plane – and the core tenets of a movement that called for experimentation, individuality, unexpected materials, and, perhaps above all, physical action and psychological freedom.”

Although the members of Gutai attempted to distance their work from the past and from reminders of the war, death and destruction, I found several artworks that don’t escape the reminder of the horror of the atom bomb. Others allude to the mushroom cloud yet also hint at renewal and rebirth. Saburo Murakami’s Work, 1963, Paint, polyvinyl acetate adhesive, plaster on board, 182.5 x 107 x 10 cm / 71 7/8 x 42 1/8 x 3 7/8 in.Hiroshima echoes: Saburo Murakami's Work, 1963

Work — Jiro Yoshihara, 1967, Oil on canvas
90.9 x 115.5 cm / 35 3/4 x 45 1/2 in.


Work — Jiro Yoshihara, 1965, Oil on canvas, 182 x 227 cm / 71 5/8 x 89 3/8 in.


White Ceremony - E — Norio Imai, 1966—2012, Acrylic, cloth, plastic mold, 63 3/4 x 51 1/4 x 7 1/8 in

White Ceremony - E

Work65-Daiwa — Takesada Matsutani, 1965
Polyvinyl acetate adhesive, paint on canvas
183.4 x 183.5 cm / 72 1/4 x 72 1/4 in


Some of these artists were also featured in an exhibit called, “Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949-1962” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 2012. I’ve been working on a new series that focuses on form and color. The artwork of the artists of the Gutai is something I want to explore more fully, especially the artwork of Jiro Yoshihara.

All images courtesy of Hauser & Wirth. A book on Gutai, titled “Gutai: Decentering Modernism” is available, as is a catalog from the exhibit at Hauser & Wirth.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Warming Huts in Winnipeg

In August I was contacted by an architecture firm in Cambridge, MA. about collaborating with them on a warming hut for a contest in Winnipeg, Manitoba. A warming hut is used along a winter trail as a place to “warm up” as you ski or skate. The contest is for international firms and artists and ask that the designs “push the envelope in terms of design, craft and art.” Out of over 100 entries, our design was chosen as one of the three from the open submission process. See the entries here.

The architecture firm had seen my work on Pinterest and was very interested in using industrial felt to line the inside of the warming hut. The city of Winnipeg has two rivers that intersect within the city and this is where this competition is centered. The frozen rivers have been turned into trails and there are a lot of activities during the winter months. See more about The Forks here.

I was unable to go due to work commitments, but have received some images and some wonderful feedback about my work. I was also able to participate in the 10x20x20 presentation from the warming hut participants via Skype. A blog post about the presentation is here: I must say that it was very challenging to talk to an empty room, I was unable to see or hear anything as it was happening but I am so, so grateful to the organizers for allowing me to participate. In fact, everyone associated with this event has been amazing. I’m particularly grateful to Mette Aamodt and her partner Andrew Plumb of Aamodt / Plumb architects for choosing me as their artist collaborator. They are an exciting firm in Cambridge and have had a lot of success with their designs. See the original proposal under Warming Hut here.

Following are some images from the finished hut and a few that I took before shipping the felt panels. Unfortunately, my camera quit working before I could get good images – I have been told that the organizer of this event has hired a professional photographer so I’m hoping for better images in the future. The images I chose to stitch centered around the rivers and their intersection. I also used images from pictographs in the area and the animals that have roamed the area for hundreds of years. I wanted to use imagery that 1) was an homage to the area, and 2) stayed true to Mette’s initial inspiration of huts she remembered that were lined with animal pelts. It was a challenging project but I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to participate and was very happy with the outcome.

exterior_warminghut1 exterior_warminghut2

exterior_warminghut3 interior_warminghut1



buffalo_panel1 buffalo_panel2