CHADŌ – The Beauty of Japanese Tea Ceremony

CHADŌ – The Beauty of Japanese Tea Ceremony

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 641. Inoue Yuichi (1916-1985), No - Whereupon 井上有一(1916 - 1985年) 《乃》 水墨紙本 鏡框.

Inoue Yuichi (1916-1985), No - Whereupon 井上有一(1916 - 1985年) 《乃》 水墨紙本 鏡框

Lot Closed

October 18, 04:41 AM GMT


250,000 - 300,000 HKD

Lot Details


Inoue Yuichi (1916-1985),

No - Whereupon

井上有一(1916 - 1985年) 《乃》 水墨紙本 鏡框

ink on paper, with one seal of the artist, framed


53.3 by 53.3 cm

Inoue Yuichi: The Power of Words  

"The characters I write have been used in our society for a long time and the oil from my fingers has seeped into those characters. That is why it is possible for me to pour all of my energy into my calligraphy." –Inoue Yuichi

Inoue Yuichi was one of five founders of the Bokujinkai group in Japan, acknowledged as the most influential and innovative of the post-war avant-garde traditional arts groups at the time.1 Central to their strategy was the identification of the abstract, conceptual and spiritual essence of shodo (calligraphy), which they sought to reconceptualize as a form of expressionist contemporary painting.  Bokujinkai artists explored radical methods and experimented with various materials such as cardboard, sticks, and broom-sized brushes to apply mineral pigments, oil paint, and lacquer instead of ink on surfaces of canvas, wood, or glass rather than traditional paper. These avant-garde tendencies inspired innovation, including the formation of the renowned Gutai art group established by Jiro Yoshihara in 1956. However, Bokujinkai maintained both philosophical and material connection specific to calligraphy as the core component of Eastern religion, philosophy and poetry with the aim to seek a common universal language. Co-founder Morita Shiryu, prominent calligrapher and intellectual, stated that the group’s mission was “to establish calligraphy on the basis of modern art and theoretical ideas...To expand calligraphy on a global scale.”2

During this period of post-war idealism—while artists in the West embraced the spontaneous gesture of Abstract Expressionism and Art Informel as a reflection of perceived chaos and terror in the post-war condition—artists in the East drew upon the inherent gesture of calligraphic arts as a medium for expressionist painting, experiencing a sense of euphoria and liberation from decades of totalitarian oppression. In this period, Inoue Yuichi was determined to convey new significance within old ideals and carve out forms of expression to replicate his struggle. Capturing the beauty of kanji, Chinese characters, Yuichi created powerful, massive single-character expressions that channel his inner states of mind through the spontaneous yet meditated movement of both his body and brush. Blurring the boundaries between calligraphy, abstract painting and performance art, Yuichi’s transcendent artistic language was recognized in major international displays of abstract art including MoMA in New York in 1954, Sao Paolo Biennale in 1957, and Documenta II in Kassel in 1959. As such, global exhibitions of East and West sought to highlight the artistic and philosophical similarities between the works of modern calligraphy artists and abstract gesture artists. Thus, Yuichi became increasingly recognized for his free-form works distinguished from those of high-profile artists in the West such as Jackson Pollock and Hans Hartung.

Focusing intensely on a single character for a short, intense period of time, Yuichi's massive strokes tremble with sublime internal tremors and intricate rivulets of ink. In the period following an obsessive yet never professed affection for Mayuno Sato, a woman 30 years his junior, a great deal of romantic poetry was found in Yuichi's diary, coinciding with repeated calligraphic works with the characters ‘no’ and ‘love’. In the present work, the character No crosses over the pictorial edge of the frame, defying traditional rules of calligraphy and evoking a subtly heart-wrenching sense of pathos. The present work also testifies to an important breakthrough in Yuichi's innovative experiments in the 1960s, after which he began combining a water-based glue and carbon powder to resolve the issue of cracks caused by dried ink, a feature observed in his earlier works. Yuichi achieved swift international acclaim as early as the 1950s, exhibiting alongside the likes of Jackson Pollock, Yves Kline, Hans Hartung and Pierre Soulages at the São Paolo Biennials (1957, 1959 and 1961) and documenta II in Kassel (1959).

1 Munroe, Alexandra, “With the Suddenness of Creation: Trends in Abstract Painting in Japan and China, 1945–1970,” Asian Traditions/Modern Expressions: Asian American Artists and Abstraction, 1945–1970, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1997, p. 35
2 Bokubi No. 1, June 1951.

作為影響深遠的「墨人會」五位創始人之一,井上有一素來被視為日本戰後前衛藝術團體至關重要的代表人物1。「墨人會」旨在探索傳統書道所蘊含的抽象意念及內在精髓,並以嶄新的當代美學重新呈現。他們的創作媒介不受限於傳統的水墨紙張,畫面中常常可見極具張力的實驗性素材,如以帆布、木板甚至玻璃為地,以卡紙、木棍或笤帚大小的筆刷上色,敷以礦物顏料、油彩乃至漆料, 以創造出非比尋常的豐厚質感。 同期發展的前衛藝術團體還包括由吉原治良於1956年創立的「具體派」,主張擯棄舊有觀點,鼓勵嶄新的藝術形式。「墨人會」則在崇尚規約的書法傳統下,延伸其具有東方特質的涵義及形態, 尋求一種可以引起廣泛共鳴的藝術語言。另一位創始人森田子龍,亦為廣受尊崇的書法家,談及「墨人會」的宗旨,他總結道:「要將書道從根深蒂固的傳統形式中解放出來,注入現代藝術理念,由此推向國際舞臺。」2


以單字為重心,作畫時間短暫而激烈,井上有一的筆法宏大,筆觸震顫而高遠,細密的墨溪亦顫動不已。藝術家曾愛上比自己年輕三十歲的佐藤繭乃,他從未言明對繭乃的愛意,然而當時期的日記裡滿載浪漫詩意,期間反覆以「乃」及「愛 」字創作大量作品。《乃》穿過畫框的圖像邊緣,違抗書法的傳統規律,喚起讓觀者隱隱心痛的傷感。此外,本作亦見證了井上有一以墨進行創意實驗的一個重大突破:1960年代,他開始將一種水性的膠水及碳粉調合,來解決較早期作品當中墨水變乾後出現裂紋的問題。井上有一早於1950年代已受到國際藝壇的注意,於聖保羅雙年展(1957、1959及1961年)及卡塞爾文獻展(1959年)與傑克森·波拉克、弗朗茲·克萊恩、漢斯·哈同以及皮爾·蘇拉奇等名家同場展出作品。

1亞歷山大·夢露,〈With the Suddenness of Creation: Trends in Abstract Painting in Japan and China, 1945–1970〉,《 Asian Traditions/Modern Expressions: Asian American Artists and Abstraction, 1945–1970》,亞伯拉·哈里,紐約,1997年,35頁。