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Yasuyoshi Saito

(b Yamaguchi Prefect., Sept 6, 1906; d San Francisco, CA, March 11, 1957).

Japanese painter and writer. In 1929 he graduated from Tokyo Imperial University, where he researched Tōyō Sesshū for his thesis. In 1930 he went to Paris where his work was selected for the Salon d’Automne; on returning two years later to Japan, he exhibited in the 19th Nika Ten (Second Division Society exhibition). In 1948 he exhibited At the Lake (1948; Kobe, Kōnan Senior High Sch.) in the 12th Jiyū Bijutsuka Kyōkai Ten (Society of Independent Artists exhibition) at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. In 1951 he corresponded with Franz Kline, exchanging views on Eastern and Western cultures. He exhibited Rhapsody: At the Fishing Village (frottage on paper mounted on four-fold screen, 1952; Tokyo, N. Mus. Mod. A.) at the Nihon Gendai Bijutsu Ten (Exhibition of Contemporary Japanese Art), organized by the Tokyo Reader’s Digest in 1952. A year later he had a one-man exhibition at the New Gallery, New York and was a founder-member of the Nihon Abusutorakuto Āto Kurabu (...

Article

Hong Sŏn-p’yo

[Kim Whanki]

(b Kijwa Island, South Chŏlla Province, 1913; d New York, 1974).

Korean painter. He was a pioneer of abstract art in Korea. The son of an affluent shipowner, he completed his middle-school education in Japan and entered the art department of a university there. In his second year at university he organized an avant-garde art research group and was actively involved in the early movement for abstract art in Japan. In 1936, the year of his graduation, his first private exhibition was held in the Kiikokuoku Gallery in Tokyo. His work from this time is characterized by the attempt to amalgamate Cubism, Futurism and abstract art. On his return to Korea in 1937 he exhibited paintings as a member of the very first Japanese organization for abstract art, the Freedom group. After Korean independence from Japan in 1945 he organized a representationalist school and actively promoted modern art. In 1956 he travelled to Paris, where he stayed for three years, studying European art. After returning to Korea he worked as the Dean of Hong’ik University, Seoul, and as the Chief Director of the Korean Art Association. In this period he worked with such traditional Korean motifs as symbols of longevity, including the moon, mountains, clouds and cranes, and such traditional materials as porcelain, simplifying their form and emphasizing the Koreanness of their style and essence. In ...

Article

Yasuyoshi Saito

(b Tokyo, May 22, 1911).

Japanese painter and teacher. His grandfather was the celebrated Nihonga (Japanese-style) painter Gyokushō Kawabata. In 1934 Kawabata graduated from the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (now the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music). From 1939 to 1941 he lived in Italy and France. In 1950 he became a professor at the Tama Art University, Tokyo, and the following year he exhibited at the first São Paulo Biennale. In 1953 he was a founder-member of the Nihon Abusutorakuto Āto Kurabu (Japanese Abstract Art Club) with Jirō Yoshihara, Takeo Yamaguchi and others. In 1958 Kawabata went to the USA and participated in an international exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, where he was awarded a prize. He exhibited Rhythm (1958; Tokyo, N. Mus. Mod. A.) at the Sengo No Shūsaku (Post-war Outstanding Works of Art Exhibition) at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo (1959...

Article

Shigeo Chiba

(b Wakayama Prefect., Nov 10, 1892; d Tokyo, June 5, 1966).

Japanese painter. He started painting while at school and in 1912 went to Tokyo to study at the Taiheiyō Gakkai Kenkyūjō. In 1917 he first showed work at the exhibition of the Nikakai. During this period he modelled himself on Sōtarō Yasui. From 1920 to 1923 and 1924 to 1929 he lived in France: during the first stay he made many copies of works by Domenico Tintoretto and Titian; on the second occasion he studied under André Lhôte and Fernand Léger, his work tending towards that of Auguste Renoir and Marc Chagall. His fantastic and Surrealist pre-war works, for example Girl and Shells (1934; Wakayama, Prefect. Mus. Mod. A.), were attempts to create an individual style from the influences under which he had come during his studies in France. After World War II his work moved towards abstraction (e.g. Strange Shadow, 1953; Tokyo, N. Mus. Mod. A.), as is clear from his role in the formation of the ...

Article

Shigeo Chiba

(b Nagoya, June 4, 1901; d Kyoto, Dec 18, 1951).

Japanese painter. He studied painting at a private art school from the age of 18. When he was 29 he entered the art school run by Seifū Tsuda (1880–1978) and submitted works to the Nikakai (Second Division Association) and Dokuritsu bijitsu kyokai (Independent Art Association) exhibitions. Following the introduction of Surrealism and abstract art to Japan, he began, after a period of trial and error, to create works that possessed an individual quality of fantasy; in 1937 he painted Spikenards (Tokyo, N. Mus. Mod. A.), the first of a group of works that are notable as examples of Japanese Surrealism.

In 1939 Kitawaki took part in the founding of the Bijutsu bunka kyokai (Art Culture Association). From that date until 1941–2 he produced paintings of geometrical figures and structures; completely unparalleled at the time, they were the forerunners of Shūsaku Arakawa’s Diagram paintings. After World War II he energetically participated in avant-garde art movements in Kyoto, struggling but unable to surpass his pre-war achievements. The painting ...

Article

Toru Asano

(b Tokyo, July 2, 1891; d Tokyo, June 3, 1955).

Japanese printmaker, poet and book designer. He studied at the Tokyo Art School from 1910 to 1915. Influenced by Yumeji Takehisa (1884–1934), a painter of highly popular sentimental portraits of women, and later by Edvard Munch and Vasily Kandinsky, he moved towards the expression of his inner feelings, which he termed lyricism. In 1914–15, with Shizuo Fujimori (1891–1943) and Kyōkichi Tanaka (1892–1915), he founded Tsukuhae (‘Moonglow’), a magazine of poetry and woodblock prints, in which he published abstract prints. One of these, Bright Time (1915; Tokyo, N. Mus. Mod. A.), is possibly the first purely abstract Japanese work. He also produced polychromatic figurative woodblock prints, such as Ripples (1939; priv. col., see Kubo, pl. 202) and The Author of Hyōtō (‘Ice isle’, 1943; Tokyo, N. Mus. Mod. A., see Kubo, pl. 224), a portrait of his close friend, the poet Sakutarō Hagiwara. Works such as the illustrated poetry collection ...

Article

Yasuyoshi Saito

[Masuko]

(b Manshū, Manchuria, March 28, 1913).

Japanese calligrapher and painter of Manchurian birth. She learnt calligraphy from her father from 1930 to 1945. In 1940 she held her first one-woman exhibition at the Kyukyodo Gallery in Tokyo. From c. 1945 she began the production of abstract paintings using sumi (ink). In 1954 she exhibited at the exhibition of Japanese Calligraphy at MOMA, New York. In the same year she produced mural calligraphy for the Japanese pavilion at the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the city of São Paulo. In 1955 she exhibited at the Nichi-Bei chūshō bijutsuten (exhibition of Japanese and American abstract art) at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, and at the Sumi no geijutsuten (exhibition of sumi art) which toured Europe in 1955–6. From 1956 she held numerous one-woman exhibitions in Europe and North America, and in 1961 she was invited to exhibit work at the 6th São Paulo Biennial. The following year she created a relief mural for the lobby of the Kyoto International Conference Hall, and in ...

Article

Shigeo Chiba

(b Toyama, Toyama Prefect., Dec 7, 1903; d Tokyo, Jan 1, 1979).

Japanese writer and critic. He was already fascinated by Surrealism when he graduated from the English Department of Keio University, Tokyo, in 1931, and had translated André Breton’s Le Surréalisme et la peinture (Paris, 1928) in 1930. He also had a profound concern for the visual arts, regarding Surrealism as a ‘metamorphosis of the power of poetry’. In his major work Kindai geijutsu (‘Modern art’) he discussed the opposition between abstract art and Surrealism as a means of identifying the nature of contemporary art. Because of his involvement with art movements, in 1941, with Ichirō Fukuzawa, he was arrested by the political police, who regarded Surrealism as a branch of the Communist Party, and he was detained for eight months.

After World War II and particularly during the 1950s, Takiguchi continued to be involved with art movements and wrote criticism in which he showed a sharp sensitivity capable of detecting the contemporary vanguard. His translations of work by ...

Article

Shigeo Chiba

(b Osaka, Jan 1, 1905; d Ashiya, Feb 10, 1972).

Japanese painter . He was mainly self-taught as an artist. When his friendship with Tsuguharu Fujita and Seiji Tōgō began, he moved towards abstract painting and before World War II showed work at the exhibitions of the Nikakai and of the more radical Kyūshitsukai. After the war he was active as one of the principal promoters of avant-garde art in the Kansai region. In 1953 he was a founder-member of the Nihon Abusutorakuto Āto Kurabu (Japanese Abstract Art Club) with Minoru Kawabata, Takeo Yamaguchi and others, and in 1954 he both sponsored the foundation of and represented the Gutai Bijutsu Kyōkai (Concrete Art Association; see Gutai ), whose central figures were the young painters Kazuō Shiraga (b 1924) and Atsuko Tanaka (1932–2005). They held regular exhibitions in Kansai and Tokyo and published a journal, Gutai.

In his own work Yoshihara continued almost consistently to pursue abstract painting, despite the various anti-art activities of the Gutai members, which challenged traditional concepts. Like other members of the group, in the late 1950s he was influenced by the forms of ...