Tsuruko Yamazaki


Ashiya, Japan, 1925; lives in Ashiya

The Gutai group emerged in 1954, in the town of Ashiya, near Osaka, in Japan, within the effervescent context of the reconstruction of the country after World War II. Founded by painter and theoretician Jirō Yoshihara (1905–1972), a pioneer in abstract art in Japan, Gutai is among the most distinguished artistic expressions in the postwar avant-garde. Precursors of happenings, its members combined deep political and ideological engagement with a desire to produce art within a global context, transcending boundaries between painting and performance, object and process, art and life. In almost two decades of activities, more than fifty artists took part in the collective, whose works included experimental interventions in urban spaces and in public parks.

Red is a recreation of the work Yamazaki conceived for the First Gutai’s Outdoor Exhibition of Modern Art in 1956. A red vinyl cube suspended a few centimeters above the ground brings color to the space, like a large 3-D monochromatic painting activated by the play between light and shadow, and by the viewers’ presence. Our bodies are invited to explore the work: you have to bend down to penetrate the structure and, once inside, you are contaminated by the color and become part of a choreography of silhouettes, revealed to the viewers on the outside. Even though little known in Brazil, Red reveals conceptual and formal affinities to the works of the neoconcrete Brazilian group, particularly with Hélio Oiticica’s Penetráveis [Penetrables] series, due to the passage both works promote from geometric abstraction into real space. With an extensive body of works, Yamazaki, at 89, is still dedicated to painting on industrial metal, taking advantage of its reflective qualities to explore visual effects, furthering her research on material, color and light, which has marked her production since her time with the Gutai.

Inês Grosso