INOUE YUICHI, HIN (POVERTY) , SHOWA PERIOD, 20TH CENTURY
oil on canvas, the reverse signed Inonue Yuichi and dated 1954
60 x 46 cm., 23¾ x18⅛ in.
- Structural Condition
The canvas is unlined and is securely attached to the artist's original fixed wooden stretcher
with one horizontal cross member. The tacking and turnover edges have been strengthened
with a strip-lining. This is ensuring a stable structural support. The canvas slightly undulates in
places including a slight bulge in the upper right corner. These are only clearly visible in a
raking light. The canvas is inscribed by the artist on the reverse.
- Paint surface
The paint surface displays a few slightly scattered raised lines of craquelure, most notably
towards the extreme edges and including a raised diagonal line towards the lower right
corner. These appear stable at present.
There are also a number of networks of drying craquelure, most notably a rectangular area
towards the centre of the left edge. These are entirely stable and are attributable to the
natural drying processes of the artist's materials.
There is a diagonal scratch in the upper right corner which is discernibly different in
appearance to incised lines made by the artist in other areas of the composition.
There are intermittent stretcher bar lines, most notably corresponding to the right part of the
central horizontal stretcher member. These appear stable at present.
- Inspection under ultraviolet light shows scattered retouchings, including:
1) a diagonal line of retouching in the upper right corner corresponding to the scratch
2) intermittent retouchings on and close to the extreme edges of composition,
3) several spots possibly corresponding to historic small circular stains towards the centre of
the left edge, and
4) a number of small retouchings within the main body of the composition including scattered
lines of hatching and close to the raised stretcher bar line in the centre right of the
The painting would therefore appear to be in good and stable condition and the retouchings
should be noted.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
Arthur Aeschbacher, who purchased it in 1955 from the artist.
Exposition de la Calligraphie et de la Peinture Calligraphique Moderne du Japon, at the gallery Mme Colette Allendy, 14th January to 13th February 1955.
Unagami Masanomi, YU-ICHI Catalogue Raisonné Volume 1 (1949-1969), (Tokyo, 1998), p. 67, CR no: 54003.
Born in Tokyo, Inoue Yuichi (1916–1985) first practiced to become a painter while working as an elementary school teacher. In 1941 He finally decided to focus on calligraphy, under a pioneer of avant-garde calligraphy, Ueda Sokyu (1899 – 1968). At that time, there was a surge of avant-garde calligraphy – they sought liberation from conventional calligraphy which encouraged to follow classic examples, and some of the artists even ceased from writing characters in order to express the pure beauty of ink and spaces.
In 1952, Inoue formed Bokujin-kai with four other ambitious calligraphers. Pursuing their own calligraphy beyond traditionalism, the group referred to abstract painting, aesthetics, zen-philosophy and actively interacted with foreign abstract artists such as Pierre Soulages. Inoue’s works became highly acclaimed worldwide after being displayed at the exhibitions of Japanese Calligraphy at Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1954 and L’encre de Chine dans la calligraphie et l’art Japonais Contemporains in 1955 which travelled around five European countries.
Around 1955, Inoue abandoned writing characters and started to draw abstract forms with a broom and enamel paints, which resembled the Art Informel movement and action painting of that time – as if turning his back to all the conventional calligraphy world. However, he eventually returned to characters and drew one of his the most renowned early masterpieces, Gutetsu. Gutetsu, shown at the fourth São Paulo Biennnale in 1957, was later included in A Concise History of Modern Painting (1968) by Sir Herbert Read.
By exploring to the depth of characters, Inoue attained his dynamically emotional style that is not limited to calligraphy in a traditional sense. Many of his works are drawn with one character (Ichiji-sho), such as Hin [poor], Ai [love], Yume [dream].
This rare oil painting with an inscribed character of Hin [poor] is one of Inoue’s early works from 1954. It shows a rather restrained style compared to his later works. The character, Hin, had been drawn continuously throughout his career and it undoubtedly had a special meaning for him. For Inoue who barely survived from by the Great Tokyo Air Raid in 1945, the scenery of burnt-out ruins may have been the representation of Hin and also of himself re-started from there. Hin is a self-portrait of Inoue who lived his life away from the material culture.