Into the Unknown World — GUTAI: Differentiation and Integration “Differentiation:Nakanoshima Museum of Art, Osaka”

The Gutai Art Association (Gutai) was a collective of artists established in Ashiya (in Hyogo Prefecture, close to Osaka) in 1954. Painter Yoshihara Jiro (1905-72) was the central figure in the association. Through painting and a variety of other practices, the Gutai artists set out to express themselves freely without being confined to existing precedents. Today, Gutai is regarded as origin of Post-war Japanese art, also known as almost like a legend of that period and has finally attained national and international prominence that it deserves.

This exhibition takes a fresh look at Gutai’s trajectory from two perspectives: differentiation and integration. This approach has some commonalities with the Gutai attitude of attempting to be a coherent collective while individually producing different work that does not fall into the trap of imitating someone else’s art. This follows Yoshihara’s view that art should ideally involve the human spirit and matter shaking hands but remaining apart.

Differentiation   Nakanoshima Museum of Art
Gutai has always been associated with pioneering and originality. Jiro Yoshihara’s words, “Don’t imitate others, create something that has never existed before,” have been passed down as a direct expression of this. Contrary to this recognition, the details of Gutai’s pioneering and originality have not been made clear. Nakanoshima Museum of Art, who have taken “differentiation” as their theme, extract several elements from Gutai’s work in order to examine the circumstances of each work in detail. The venue does not aim to draw the conclusion that Gutai was diverse. Assuming diversity, it attempts to approach the essence of the Gutai group by maximally visualizing the kind of expressions that have been accepted.

The two venues for this exhibition—the Nakanoshima Museum of Art, Osaka and the National Museum of Art, Osaka—are both located on the island of Nakanoshima in central Osaka, making this the first major Gutai exhibition to take place where Gutai established the Gutai Pinacotheca, its studio and exhibition space. The Nakanoshima Museum of Art, Osaka focuses on the “differentiation” of Gutai, exploring the individual creativity of its artists, while the National Museum of Art, Osaka focuses on Gutai’s “integration,” following the undulations of the collective’s experimental course. This combination of differentiation and integration results in a new understanding of Gutai. Gutai included both male and female artists. Presented in 2022, fifty years on from the dissolution of Gutai, this exhibition provides a timely examination of what happened when they set out “into the unknown world.”

Norio Imai Kumiko Imanaka Chiyu Uemae Yozo Ukita Kimiko Ohara Minoru Onoda Akira Kanayama Seiko Kanno Joji Kikunami Shigeki Kitani Aine Kinashi Masaya Sakamoto Shozo Shimamoto Kazuo Shiraga Fujiko Shiraga Yasuo Sumi Satoshi Tai Motonao Takasaki Atsuko Tanaka Ryuji Tanaka Teruyuki Tsubouchi Michimasa Naohara Senkichiro Nasaka Yuko Nasaka Akiko Horio Sadaharu Horio Tsuyoshi Maekawa Yutaka Matsuda Masatoshi Masanobu Takesada Matsutani Shuji Mukai Saburo Murakami Sadamasa Motonaga Keiko Moriuchi Tsuruko Yamazaki Minoru Yoshida Michio Yoshihara Jiro Yoshihara
Nakanoshima Museum of Art, Osaka, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, The Asahi Shimbun, MBS
Takenaka Corporation
Daikin Foundation for Contemporary Arts
Agency for Cultural Affairs Project for Promoting the Dissemination of Modern Art Overseas (2022/2023), The Kao Foundation for Arts and Sciences, Tadao Ando Cultural Foundation
Special cooperation
Ashiya City Museum of Art & History, Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art
Nakanoshima Museum of Art, Osaka
Into the Unknown World — GUTAI: Differentiation and Integration