Inoue Yūichi

6 May - 27 June 2014

It is with great enthusiasm and pride that I present 30 works by Inoue Yuichi, one of the great artists of postwar Japan. Yuichi's early experiments were shown in New York six decades ago in the summer of 1954, when the Museum of Modern Art mounted the exhibition Japanese Calligraphy.


40 years later Yuichi's searing masterpiece Ah, Yokokawa National School (1978), a work inspired by the horrors of wartime bombing, provoked comparison with Picasso's Guernicawhen it was included in the exhibition Japanese Art After 1945: Scream Against the Sky, curated by Alexandra Munroe and held at the Guggenheim Museum.

Two decades later, our show offers visitors an opportunity to take a broad view of Yuichi's legacy. The exhibition features large, almost abstract works dating from the late 1950s and early 1960s, when Yuichi was still resolving his struggle to come to terms with the conflict between pure abstraction and the written word. The bulk of the exhibition is taken up with selections from his great series of single-character visual declarations, executed in the later 1960s and the 1970s.


Often compared with Franz Kline, Yuichi's achievement above all rests in his success in straddling West and East, in combining two visual languages--written characters and abstract expressionism--to convey deeply felt inner conflict and anguish. The strokes of his kanji, sometimes so thick that they are more mass than line, explode onto the paper with a visceral energy that cries out for our total attention. Yuichi's eccentric and wonderfully sparse works create a new world in which clarity of meaning and intensity of emotion are fused into an integral whole.


The featured works published in our catalog are included in the monumental 3-volume catalogue raisonne published from 1996 to 2000. 


Due to the large scale of the works, the exhibition will be divided into two rotations, with the first half on view until May 27 and the second half from May 28 through June 27.