Pilgrimage of Abstraction
Initially painting in a figurative style in the 1930s, Suda Kokuta became one of the most important abstract painters of the Japanese avant-garde. In 1948, Suda joined the Han Bijutsu-ka Kyokai (Han Artists Association) founded by Yoshihara Jiro, and in 1949 was introduced to abstract painting via the influential Hasegawa Saburo. Around this time, Suda also began studying Zen Buddhism and pursued practice zazen (seated meditation), a practice which deeply influenced his work and prompted a major turning point in his art. In 1952, together with Yoshihara and other artists, Suda co-founded the historical Genbi (Modern Art Discussion Group), which offered a platform for exploration and discussion of the artistic avant-garde and later influenced the founding of the now renowned Gutai Art Association; later that year, Morita and Inoue Yuichi’s influential Bokubi journal published an article illustrating Suda’s transition and evolution from the figurative to the abstract.
Throughout his career, Suda was a keen calligrapher and corresponded with Inoue on a regular basis, discussing the connection between ink and brush. His own works on canvas featured abstract forms characterized by distinctively vigorous and confident brushwork, often with calligraphic flair or structure. During the late 1950s and 1960s, the prolific Suda exhibited at numerous international art exhibitions and became the head of the Nishinomiya Art Association of the Nishinomiya Art Association. In 1967, he also began teaching at the Koshi-en Gakkuin College in Nishinomiya. Works by the artist are collected by the Sogetsu Museum of Art, the Kahitsukan Kyoto Museum of Modern Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, amongst others.