#1-2. Paintings with burlap Work (No.161244)

Work (No.161244), 2015-16, 162.0×195.0cm,Burlap, oil,acrylic

In the exhibition Space #1, Tsuyoshi Maekawa’s paintings with “Burlap”, his representative style of painting, are introduced.


Burlap is a loosely woven thick cloth used for making a gunny sack. Maekawa started to use this material when he was in high school. He is said to have organized a modern art club with his friends and exhibited his works with burlap in corridors at school. *¹ In 1955, He graduated from a design course of Osaka City Kogei High School and in the following year, he met Jiro Yoshihara(1905 ~ 1972), the leader of “The Gutai Art Association”(or Gutai). Gutai was an avant-garde group established in 1954, and it operated mainly in Kansai region. Early members include Kazuo Shiraga who drew paintings with his feet, Shozo Shimamoto who made his work by throwing bottles filled with paints, and so on. Yoshihara inspired the young people gathered as members, saying “Never imitate others” and “Do what no one has done before”. As most art style was dark and heavy at that time, the works of members looked for Maekawa, “Unemotional, very bright, and shining as if they were design works” said Maekawa. *² In 1962, about eight years after the establishment of Gutai, Maekawa joined Gutai and began to practice the instruction of Yoshihara.

After he joined Gutai, he started to make works by cutting burlap into slender pieces, folding them like pleats, binding with glue, and then coloring them over with paints and so on. In those days, members of Gutai made large-scale works more and more using familiar materials at low price, not high-quality materials sold at art shops. During that time, Maekawa was surprised that paintings were created by using materials unrelated to painting tools. He expresses his state of mind in those days saying “I felt like that I could make my works in such a free style.I could see endless infinite world.” *³


Thus, many works having strong presence given by rough cloth of burlap, flowing traces of paints, and those bright colors, had been created. However, the greatest feature of this style comes from the point that the material with abundant wildness is made up from the viewpoint of sophisticated design, which maximize the charm of the material.
Maekawa’s works have conflicting characters, wildness and intelligence, which compete each other in a balanced fashion, create synergy effect with some kind of tension, and then give strong impression of the material, that is, the existence of matter itself to viewers.

After Gutai dissolved in 1972, Maekawa had used different fabric materials for a while. From around 2000, he began to make works with burlap. In this room, his works with burlap made in recent years are exhibited together with works made before he joined Gutai, such as the abstract painting “Work No.1912102” drew in 1956, and then we focus on the source of his creation.

His early piece:Work (No.1912102), 1956, 45.5×38.0cm, Oil, canvas.

*¹ Maekawa, Axel and May Vervoordt Foundation, 2014
*², *³ “News from Museum” No. 283 ,1989, The Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama


#0 A Gate-shaped piece: Work (No.2001007)

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