Lot 703
  • 703

Yamaguchi Takeo

100,000 - 200,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Yamaguchi Takeo
  • Hari (Glass)
  • oil on canvas
titled in Japanese and dated 1933 on the reverse, framed


Private Japanese Collection

Catalogue Note

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by Takeo Yamaguchi Artwork Registration Association


I am both conductor, separate from the actual performing elements in the painting; and the craftsman, completely involved in the process of creating. - Yamaguchi Takeo1

Created in 1933, Hari (Lot 703) is an extremely rare pre-war painting that survived the devastation of the war, hailing from the critical first stage of Yamaguchi's abstraction. Featuring patches of colour juxtaposed against bold black jagged areas, the composition radiates an understated yet commanding harmony of texture, depth, and rhythm. The aesthetic is strikingly similar to--and pre-dates by over a decade--the first of Clyfford Still's Colour Field paintings that originated in the late 1940s. It is also interesting to observe Mark Rothko's transitional paintings from the mid-1940s: like Yamaguchi, Rothko started with swashes of juxtaposing colour that gradually evolved into large colour fields.

While Hari's solid colours and impasto textures foreshadow that of Yamaguchi's later signature works, Hari, in turn, evolved from landscapes--an area that Yamaguchi researched and painted for many years without exhibiting any of his studies.2 While his premature works contained hints of Fauvism, Yamaguchi soon sought, in his own unique way, to use line, colour, and texture to call forth invisible essences and vibrations rather than conducting mere abstraction of representational form. In other words, Yamaguchi's abstract works notsomuch "imitated" reality as "constructed" it. As Joseph Love observes, Yamaguchi's abstractions "do not copy the details of a landscape, but rather depict landscape 'landscaping', i.e. the act of forming a particular stance or quality of being landscape".3

Hari was created in 1933, shortly after Yamaguchi's return to Seoul from Paris. During this period Yamaguchi sent works each year to be shown at the annual exhibitions of the Nika-kai (Second Section Association), one of the most pivotal avant-garde groups of Japan's pre-war period. Later in the decade, Yamaguchi co-founded the even more progressive Kyūshitsu-kai (Ninth Room Association) alongside several artists including Yoshihara Jirō, who established the Gutai group after the war; as well as Saitō Yoshishige, whose students later originated the Mono-ha movement. It was within this exciting atmosphere of pre-war Japan that Yamaguchi's career, and defining legacy, first began.

1 Exh. cat. Yamaguchi Takeo and Horiuti Masakazu, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 1980, p. 20

2 Joseph Love, exh. cat. Takeo Yamaguchi, Minami Gallery, Tokyo, 1975

3 Ibid