An elegant example from Takesada Matsutani’s ‘Circle’ series, ‘Cercle 96-6-2’ (1996) is poised in a fluid exchange between light and dark, revealing the beauty of the unworked, abundant white space. From the early 1960s until the 1970s, Matsutani was a key member of the influential Japanese art collective, the Gutai Art Association. As part of the Gutai group, Matsutani experimented with vinyl glue, using fans and his own breath to manipulate the substance, creating bulbous and sensuous forms. Matsutani moved to Paris in 1966, and after the group disbanded in 1972, the artist eased into a radical yet consistent new body of work.
Living in Paris in the 1970s with limited resources, Matsutani was compelled to reconsider the essential tools of art-making. The inexpensive materials of graphite and paper allowed the artist to discover the elementary and immediate technique of black and white drawing. Matsutani began creating vast expanses of metallic black graphite on mural-size sheets of paper built up with painstaking individual strokes. The artist was exploring what surface could emerge out of an accumulation of this medium – a practice he has continued over the last 40 years.
This ritualized manner of mark-making has a performative nature, thus presenting a time-based record of his gestures. These processes have been translated into an artistic language that is uniquely his own. In ‘Cercle 96-6-2’ Matsutani united his signature media, using both vinyl adhesive and graphite. As one of the most important Japanese artists still working today, Matsutani continues to demonstrate the spirit of Gutai throughout his practice, conveying the reciprocity between pure gesture and raw material.
From the early 1960s until the 1970s Matsutani was a key member of the ‘second generation’ of the influential post war Japanese art collective, the Gutai Art Association. Over five decades Matsutani has developed a unique visual language of form and materials. As part of the Gutai group, Matsutani experimented with vinyl glue, using fans and his own breath to manipulate the substance, creating bulbous and sensuous forms reminiscent of human curves and features.
© Takesada Matsutani. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Stefan Altenburger Photography Zürich