Lot 1002
  • 1002

Yoshihara Jiro

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 HKD
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  • Yoshihara Jiro
  • Work
  • executed circa 1964
  • oil on canvas


Collection of Yoshihara Jiro
Acquired by the descent from the above
Acquired by the present owner from the above

Catalogue Note

This work is accompanied with a certificate of authenticity issued by the estate of Yoshihara Jiro

Circle: Window to the World
Yoshihara Jirō 

The yellow-on-red Work (Lot 1002) and blue-on-gold Work (Lot 1003) are arresting examples of Yoshihara Jirō's iconic Circle series, each one displaying a distinct medium and style of brushwork. In Lot 1002, the lustrous yellow loop appears like a single gestural calligraphic stroke on first glance; it is only upon closer inspection that we discover the tight, meticulously layered brushwork that constitute the vividly luminous ring. Using texture to re-create gesture in an intimate engagement with concrete materiality, Yoshihara applies rhythmically fastidious strokes of paint which, in their consummated form of a lacerated, open-mouthed circle, emits the piercing "scream of matter" as penned by Yoshihara in 1956 in the Gutai Art Manifesto.

In the second half of the 1960s Yoshihara shifted from using oil to acrylic paint; at the same time the circumferences of his circles became more hard-edged. Carefully planned and rigorously executed, the borders of Work are built up brushstroke by brushstroke in an exalted celebration of sublime materiality, painstakingly exact in Yoshihara's tireless quest for perfection. The perimeters of his circles are adjusted continuously to equalize figure-ground tension;1 as a result the circle pulsates, combining the organic with the geometric, and minimal formalism with the sacred calligraphic touch. Focusing almost exclusively on circles in the last decade of his life, in painting them Yoshihara found a unique method suitable for his "individual quality", coming full circle in his expression to attain a "new sense of spirituality".2

While Yoshihara never associated his art with Zen teachings, his celebrated circles are instantly reminiscent of traditional ensō (circle) paintings. In Zen Buddhism, the ensō symbolizes both enlightenment and the void, representing emptiness, freedom, unity and infinity. Constituting the ultimate transcendent form in Zen painting, ensō is the prerequisite to every act of creation, indicating the moment when the mind is emptied so as to allow the body to create. The ensō is usually executed in one single fluid and highly mastered brushstroke, its apparent minimalism belying its deep homage to tradition and elevated spiritual states. By reconstructing the circle with layering techniques whilst retaining the nobility of the calligraphic gesture, Yoshihara transcended the facile dichotomy of the East and the West, fusing the subtle essences of traditional Japanese beauty into a revolutionary new aesthetic of international contemporaneity.

1 Osaki Shin'ichirō, "Yoshihara Jirō to sho" [Yosihara Jirō and calligraphy], in Botsugo 20 nen Yoshihara Jirō ten, p. 183

2 Refer to 1