Yūsaku’s works set for Fall showing


Tawara Yūsaku, Japanese, (1932-2004), Kyo (Emptiness), 9.29-1, from Boh Boh (Vastness) series, 1993, ink on paper, 10 5/8 x 9 in.

     (AAPNW-IN – Works by Tawara Yūsaku, a contemporary Japanese artist known for his highly energetic brushstroke, goes on view Friday, November 11 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. This first large-scale exhibition titled:  “Universe Is Flux: The Art of Tawara Yūsaku” will feature 77 artist’s works with the show closing not until April 1, 2012.

     Artist Tawara’s belief was that the universe is unstable and constantly changing. The works, primarily in ink on paper, use the cumulative effect of many brushstrokes to create powerful and expressive works and very apparent in his smallest 3 in. x 5 in. paintings.

     “With this exhibition, the IMA will introduce the inventive and insightful vision of Tawara Yūsaku to an American audience,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, The Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the IMA. “Tawara’s great strength is an ability to create works that simultaneously exist in the realms of contemporary art and traditional Asian art, and are also strongly influenced by Buddhist concepts.”

     “Tawara’s distinctive vision of reality was transformed into immensely complex paintings filled with monumental energy,” said John Teramoto, curator of Asian art at the IMA. “Essentially he took motifs oft-employed in calligraphy and painted them—creating exciting effects that could never be executed with only a single brush stroke.”

     Tawara saw all existence as composed of vibrational energy, made up of wavelike forms he called “hadō.” Fundamentally based on Buddhist thought, the artist translated his vision of reality into paintings with intense visual impact. Highlights of the exhibition include several renditions of the Japanese character “ichi,” which means “one.” Traditionally executed in a single stroke in calligraphy, Tawara painted these ichi with his method of layering innumerable brushstrokes.


     Tawara Yūsaku (1932-2004) was born in present-day Onomichi City in Hiroshima Prefecture. His original name was Okada Toshihiko. He began studying oil painting as a high school student under the tutelage of Kobayashi Wasaku (1888–1974), who gave him the artist name, “Tawara Yūsaku” (the character for “saku” being part of his teacher’s name). In 1951 he entered the Law Faculty of Chūō University in Tokyo. While still a university student he won awards for his paintings, which led to his decision to halt his university studies and turn to painting professionally. He formed a painters’ group with Kizawa Teiichi and Kondō Kazuo.

     In 1963, he abruptly decided to put down his brush and quit painting, saying that he came to doubt the validity of his work. Later he often mentioned the opinion of the French artist Balthus, whom he met in 1965, that the oil paintings of Asian artists were lacking in power and that they were indeed more suited to working in ink. In the intervening period before returning to painting, he poured his efforts into polishing his artistic sensibilities through collecting and dealing in ancient and modern art from around the world, and focusing on folk arts and crafts by mounting and writing exhibition catalogues on folk art. His activities brought him into close contact with towering figures in the field such as Hamada Shōji (1894–1978). Through his close friendship Serizawa Keisuke (1895–1984), the textile design artist and Living National Treasure in Japan, he became absorbed in the expressive potential of brush and paper, and he began to paint again in 1993.

     For more information, call 317.923.1331 or see: www.imamuseum.org.

Published by on July 2011. Filed under Archives, Art-to-Art Marketplace Guide, At the Museums dept, PaletteBoards Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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