When I returned from my first trip to Europe, I wanted to go back immediately to study in Paris. But soon I realized that I didn't know Japan well enough yet. So I decided to take a little time to travel around and see some of the ancient heritage of the East before leaving for Europe.
Winds from the East
Domoto Hisao first travelled to Paris in 1952. After this first visit, during which he was instantly captivated by contemporary currents in French painting, Domoto nevertheless decided to spend the next three years immersed in the arts of Japan and East Asia before continuing his artistic journey in Europe. Domoto’s intention was to solidify his identity and artistic heritage before venturing again to Paris, seeking strength in his culture’s long tradition in order to hold his own against the tides of Informel. After his eventual relocation, his ensuing signature aesthetic, exemplified by Painting 1960-14, was a philosophical and aesthetic mélange of Japanese sensibilities and Western expressionism, exuding a cosmic lyricism that immediately set him apart from European artists. Executed in 1960, three years after Domoto’s debut European solo exhibition at the Galerie Stadler in Paris, the piece evokes the vigour and grandeur of crashing waves and galactic winds, exhibiting deft and dynamic brushwork paired with poised compositional discipline. Compared to the heavyweight matière of European Informel painters, such as that of Alberto Burri, Jean Dubuffet, and Jean Fautrier, Domoto’s impasto possesses a nimble dexterity that recalls the precision and lightness of touch of Eastern ink calligraphy. Balancing the elegant symphony of colour is a vast expanse of white – one that occupies almost half the canvas, and which glows with a luminous mysticism. Apart from being a critical compositional element, Domoto’s white is imbued with a profound presence on its own that resonates with Oriental philosophies of emptiness and spatiality. In 1960, writing in the catalogue for Domoto’s solo exhibition at Minami Gallery, Tokyo, French critic and Informel leader Michel Tapié wrote that Domoto’s works “subsumes both the dialectical attainments of Western mathematicians in topological composition and the intuitive properties that Eastern painting has carefully upheld down through centuries” (Michel Tapié on Domoto Hisao’s work, written for Domoto’s solo exhibition at the Minami Gallery, Tokyo, in 1960).