NORIO IMAI – WHITE EVENT
14 March – 21 April 2013
Out of almost nothing, Gutai artist Norio Imai (°Osaka, 1946) creates a monumental, monochrome white silence in space. He considers white to be the ultimate colour, a non-colour combining all colours in perfect harmony. White is a full emptiness.
Imai’s work reflects one of the most important changes that are taking place in our culture. The dimension in which we live today is increasingly shifting towards the feminine. Fluid, matrixial qualities are gaining importance over unambiguous masculinity. Imai’s work can be described as maternal. In its complete pureness it is pregnant with possibilities.
In that way Imai has incorporated the principle Jiro Yoshihara imposed on all Gutai artists the most: the leader of Gutai insisted on the fact that every work needed to be something that had never been created before – an artist needed to be completely original. This is exactly what Imai does. Even more so, with his pure and still whiteness, he incorporates the true concepts of originality and creativity. He creates a fertile soil. Imai’s work is the birth of a new beginning.
Norio Imai joined the Japanese avant-garde movement Gutai in 1965 and became their youngest member. Gutai was the most influential artists’ collective and artistic movement in postwar Japan and among the most important international avant-garde movements of the 1950s and 1960s.
Just like Zero art in Europe, Gutai carries the message of a new start and holds the promise of a rehabilitated society, yet unknown. Both groups want to return to the essence of life. They are on a quest for the source where it all began and begins all over again, a big bang where spirit and matter converge.
After the Second World War had thrown an atomic bomb on humanity, people all over the world were left scarred, with a mixed up identity composed out of the debris of a forgotten past and a destroyed present. The destructions of the war had made people crave for a new beginning and many artists of that period had sensed this urge very clearly. They knew that the only relevant thing that could be done at that point was to start anew and to put aside the past, tradition and the dogmas it carried along with it. They knew they needed to dive into the void, the unknown, and to search for a point zero, an essence they could hold onto and which they could use as a starting point.
When Lucio Fontana made a precise cut into the canvas in order to open space, he also opened the way to a new dimension in art that reflected upon society. This void, so full of hope and meaning, is the dimension that connects us all as human beings. This universal concept, which is understood in every culture and crosses the boundaries of time, is the concept that is rooted in the unconscious of art.
In this exhibition Norio Imai considers White to be an Event, an ultimate blank placed into time and space for spectators to connect with and to meditate on. Norio Imai’s sculpted white surfaces incorporate Gutai’s hope and believe in a new beginning of a pure world, to the fullest.
On the occasion of the exhibition we have published the catalogue Norio Imai, containing many historical images as well as an interview with the artist. The catalogue is available at the gallery and on our website.
At present Norio Imai’s work is also on show at The Guggenheim Museum in New York in the retrospective exhibition Gutai: Splendid Playground (15 February – 8 May 2013).